Groundhogs are underground rodents that spend most of their lives in underground tunnels. They spend a lot of time burrowing and coming out in the open to look for food. But what do groundhogs eat to survive underground?
- Groundhogs are omnivorous that’ll eat both plants and animals. But in most cases, groundhogs eat vegetables, grass, fruits, alfalfa, clovers, soybeans, dandelion, and apples, and other garden plants.
- Groundhogs tend to be more herbivorous than they are carnivorous though on some rare occasions, you will find them eating insects.
Groundhogs greatest enemy is the human being but their damages in the garden cannot be ignored. Related: Squirrel Repellent
Details: What Do Groundhogs Eat?
1. Plants, Fruits and Vegetables
When we talk about groundhogs feeding on vegetables, plants, and fruits, what are their favorites? These fruits are apples, raspberries, hackberries, mulberries, and other types of berries.
Others are cloves, dandelions, alfalfa, maple leaves among others.
Before we can get to know what groundhogs eat, maybe we can have a brief understanding of what groundhogs really are.
- Groundhogs are basically rodents that belong to a family of squirrels known as marmots. They are also referred to as woodchucks or whistle pigs because of the whistling sound they make trying to warn the rest of incoming danger.
- Groundhogs are found in the eastern and the central part of the United States. They like to live in woodlands and transitional areas.
2. Cultivated Crops
Groundhogs can also prove to be disastrous on cultivated crops like lettuce, corn, legumes, soybeans, broccoli, peas, and others
It is mostly these cultivated crops that will capture a farmer’s interest in eradicating the groundhogs. This is because of the damage they do to the crops and also to the garden.
- But even so, they spent most of their time underground burrowing and looking for food. Their tunnels can go as deep as 6 ft. under and can stretch up to 25 ft. but with multiple entrances. These burrows are where they call home and even reproduce from these places.
Though groundhogs are omnivorous, they tend to feed more vegetables and fruits, especially from our gardens. They will cause damage as they burrow through the garden leaving all your plants dead and weathering.
Apart from the vegetable, groundhogs will also destroy your carrots and other cultivated crops. For a better understanding of the groundhogs, we can break down their diet into different categories.
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3. Animals, Insects, and Pests
It is rare to find groundhogs feeding other animals and pests but when available, they don’t hesitate to eat them.
- Here are some of the delicacies that groundhogs eat. Crickets, snails, bugs, grasshoppers, bird eggs, juvenile birds among smaller animals.
However, the groundhog’s diet is also greatly affected by seasons and daily weather. This is because weather directly affects the food that is available for the rodents.
A Groundhogs Diet during Seasons
1. Spring and summer
These two seasons there is plenty of food and groundhogs have the opportunity to enjoy whatever they want. They feed on their favorite vegetables, fruits, and cultivated crops.
- They also feed on grasshopper snails and also other insects that are available.
During this season, they feed either in the morning or the evening hour and spend the rest of the daytime hours hiding underground.
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In this season, things start changing and food start becoming scarce and groundhogs turn to insects and other animals.
- Due to their limited options, they also eat tree backs and leaves and a supplementary.
- Additionally, it is this season that the groundhogs get an opportunity to eat lots of protein from the animals and insects too.
This is the reason they start storing food on the burrows as they prepare for the winter.
This is an inactive stage for the groundhogs and they are not so much involved in food hunts.
They live in the tunnels and feed on the food in the store. In this period they fed less as compared to other seasons to save on energy and food.
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How to Protect Your Garden from Groundhog
Groundhogs love to live where there is woodland and at the edges of forested areas. They will occasionally come out of the tunnels into our gardens to look for a look. As I said, they like feeding on cultivated crops.
- They can really be a nuisance on your farm but there is always a way to tame them.
- Timely harvesting. If you want to avoid losses and damages done by groundhogs, ensure your crop is harvested on time.
- Groundhogs also love eating the legume and cloves when they are natured but timely and proper harvesting will have them lose the most of reaping where they have not planted.
Using peppermint on the crops. Pepper and groundhogs are like water and paraffin, they don’t mix. Therefore if you use it on the crop or pour around the border, this will be a nice way of keeping them off. Afterward, you can wash off the pepper, if you are not a fan.
Erecting a wall around your garden. This will help secure their entry into your garden to cause destruction. To be on the safer side, you need at least a wall of 3-4 ft. high where the groundhogs cannot hump.
Using repellents. There are available in most retailers. You can use the electronic pest repellent or a normal groundhog repellent.
Removing logs within your garden will stop attracting them. Like earlier mentioned, they like to live around woody areas and this will serve the same purpose.
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What do groundhogs eat? They are omnivorous but have a high preference for vegetables, fruits and plants as compared to animals, insects and pests.
- Because of their nature to burrow and live underground, and fear for human beings, they like to come out and feed either in the evening or in the morning.
- Their feeding pattern and diet is also greatly affected by weather patterns and will hide food in the tunnels for the winter season.
That said done, they are a great threat to our farming activities and measures should be applied to ensure their damage is controlled.