North Georgia Wildlife (Woodchucks)
Woodchucks are also known as “groundhogs,” “marmots” or “whistle pigs,” (the term comes from the whistling noise they make to alert others of danger) are familiar to many living in the North Georgia Mountains.
They are short-legged, short-tailed furry little rodents found primarily in the northern half of Georgia. They have reddish brown fur that is grizzled in appearance with shades of yellow and black mixed in. Both their head and tail have a flat appearance and their ears are small and rounded.
Woodchucks prefer open areas such as fields, clearings, open forests and rocky slopes to make their tunnels. However, they will also use areas that are more brushy or weedy in nature or areas that have received disturbance such as embankments, retaining walls, dams or kudzu patches.
Woodchucks are excellent diggers and they will dig an extensive network of burrows to provide themselves with increased security from predators. Their burrows usually have a main entrance and many other side entrances that they can use to escape from predators such as coyotes, bobcats, foxes, hawks and owls. Not only do these burrows provide safety and security for woodchucks, but the abandoned burrows also are utilized by numerous other species of wildlife such as foxes, skunks, snakes and raccoons! Aside from there intricate burrows woodchucks also escape predators with their ability to climb trees! While they are considered a ground dwelling rodent their sharp claws enable them to quickly climb up a tree to avoid confrontations.
Did you know that even due to popular belief woodchucks don’t actually chuck, eat, or throw wood? Instead woodchucks feed extensively and almost exclusively on plant material. Woodchucks are crepuscular (which means they are most active in early morning and late evening), so they often are found feeding on a wide variety of grasses, plants, leaves, ferns, fruits and bark during these times. Their plant favorites include clover and alfalfa, as well as fruits and vegetables when available.
While these animals can be entertaining to watch as they are often observed grazing along roadsides, the damage caused from their burrowing activities can be quite problematic! Woodchucks are a nuisance to many gardeners as they are able to destroy an entire garden or flowerbed in a relatively short time. Plus, they burrow along sidewalks, driveways and building foundations which can lead to serious damage resulting in costly repairs.
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