How big do groundhogs get?
Groundhogs (Marmota) are rodents that is legally protected in many countries where it resides. groundhog is approximately around 19 inches long together with its tail that is almost half of this length. Groundhogs weight approximately 6-8 pounds although they pack up to 10 pounds by fall when they are preparing for hibernation.
Groundhogs have beautiful grayish fur that looks golden-brown on sunshine. As mice, rabbits and other rodents, groundhogs have front teeth that constantly grow so they often have to chew on something to use them. They have four fingers on front legs, equipped with strong claws they use to grab grass and twigs, to bring food to mouth and to dig ground. On back legs they have five fingers with rather short claws.
Groundhogs have very sharp vision and their ears catch even the lowest noise. They usually feed on plants, grass and other herbs-they prefer young and soft plants of any kind. They also eat grains, insects, spiders and worms. They hold food with front paws while eating.
Groundhogs usually leave their dens during the morning and in the afternoon, because they don't like high temperatures, which can cause that they don't even eat during very hot summer days.
When the weather is appropriate they eat large amounts of food to create fat deposit on the body, which they need to survive long period of winter sleep. Before they start winter sleep they will vomit all the food they have eaten previously and drink huge amount of water (groundhogs usually don't drink water at all). With empty stomach and clean intestines, they will curl in a ball and fall into deep sleep during which their body temperature falls to 11-12 degrees Celsius. Their heartbeat also decreases. It has been calculated that during winter hibernation groundhog inhales 71.000 times during a period of one month-which is the same number of breaths it takes during just 2 active days.
Groundhog wakes up in the spring, when it is very weak because it has spent all of the body fat deposits. When they wake up, groundhogs will devote their attention to breeding. Mother will prepare special, secured shelter. When the babies are born, they look like nice gray furry balls. For the first few weeks they will stay in the den and breastfeed. When the babies grow up a bit, mother will take them out and let them play with other youngsters, while constantly looking after them, prepared to save them at the slightest hint of danger.
When the mother digs new hallway she will let the babies in and learn them how to run away to sideway hallways when she whistles. Groundhogs develop slowly and are considered adults after they are 24 months old. They can live up to 18 years.
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