Got a Groundhog?
Groundhogs don’t venture far from the place they call home and they’re daytime foragers, so if you see one on or near your lawn there’s a good chance that it’s taken up residence under your porch, shed or some other protected place. So the best way to know is to spot the animal and see where he/she goes. If alarmed, it will head for the safety of its burrow.
While they are naturally at home in the wild, particularly in grasslands along the edge of woods or forest, groundhogs are also opportunistic, and they find the shelter afforded by buildings to be especially comfortable place to create burrows. Such places offer advantages not even to be found in the wild, such as protected space and the ability to observe the outside world.
Often, groundhogs that live in or under human dwellings and/or outbuildings don’t cause damage that is easily seen, since other than feeding, their activities primarily take place out of sight. But within that sheltered space, there may be serious problems developing. When they’re not feeding or sleeping, groundhogs tend to burrow, ultimately developing networks of tunnels up to 40 feet long and five feet deep, and consisting of multiple chambers and exit/entry holes.
Normally buildings rest on foundations and solid ground, and if the groundhogs’ burrowing activity continues to soften the ground under the building and/or their extensive tunneling follows along the foundation’s lines, the stability of the structure can be imperiled. If the ground sinks or collapses all or part of the overlying building can be subject to collapse.
So if you see a groundhog foraging on your property, keep an eye it and watch where it goes once it’s had its fill of your grass, bugs and beetles. Chances are the animal will disappear into an opening at the base of the structure or one of the entry/exit holes it has dug. If you can, look under the building for any tell-tale signs of extensive burrowing – usually mounds of dirt that have been thrown up alongside a tunnel entrance. Sheltered or not, groundhogs are instinctively drawn to the subterranean life.
People and groundhogs have been living in relative harmony for a long time, and in fact, the animals that do encroach on human habitation are simply reoccupying territory that once was theirs.
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