Identification

The Groundhog also called a Woodchuck or Whistlepig, is a member of the rodent family Sciuridae, They belong to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Most marmots live in rocky and mountainous areas, but the Woodchuck is a creature of the lowlands. It is widely distributed in North America, from Alaska to Atlanta, Georgia.

Groundhogs or woodchucks are typically 16-20 inches long and the tail adds another 4-7in. They weigh 5 to 10lbs. These rodents can live up to six years in the wild, and ten years in captivity.

Woodchucks are diurnal and may be seen feeding or basking in the Georgia sun.

Groundhogs powerful fore-feet and long, curved claws make them excellent burrowers. They use burrows for sleeping, rearing young, and hibernation. The burrows generally have two exits, and the groundhog rarely ventures far from one of them.

Breeding season starts early March to middle or late April following hibernation. A mated pair will remain in the same den through the 28-32 day gestation period. As birth of the young approaches in April or May, the male will leave the den. One litter is produced annually, usually consisting of two to eight blind, naked babies. Young Groundhogs are weaned and seek their own dens at 5-6 weeks of age.

How, When and Why They Become a Nuisance Pest

Woodchucks become a nuisance in two ways, feeding and burrowing. They are fond of gardens and flower beds and can quickly damage fruit and vegetable gardens. “Burrows” can injure unsuspecting animals and people who may stumble into them.

Damage They Cause

Most damage caused by groundhogs, In urban and suburban Atlanta, is from their “burrowing”. burrowing can lead to cave-ins and other expensive structural damage. Burrowing along sidewalks, drive-ways and building foundations may result in costly damage repairs.

If you are a gardener, whether you grow vegetables or flowers, you may be familiar with Georgia’s woodchucks. Unlike a rabbit, who will nibble at your plants, a woodchuck will totally destroy them. Some customers have commented that it looked like “a lawnmower went through the garden or flower bed“.

Once the woodchuck abandons the burrow another animal, such as a fox, raccoon or skunk may take up residence in the burrow.

Woodchucks are not a significant source of infectious diseases transmittable to humans. They can contract rabies, and may become very aggressive in the final stages of the disease.

Atlanta, Georgia Groundhog Removal & Woodchuck Control

If Woodchucks have become a “garden only” nuisance, habitat modification may be possible without the actual capture and removal of the animal. First “garden exclusion” by the use of electric fences may keep your food safe. Some groundhogs may be extremely persistent and lethal and/or humane trapping must be employed.

If the groundhogs are burrowing under your Atlanta home groundhog trapping, removal and exclusion are the only option. First, woodchucks must be trapped and removed, only then should the burrow entrance points be filled in to prevent other animals from taking up residence in the abandoned burrow.