Catch of the Week: Groundhog

Catch of the Week: Groundhog

October 19, 2017

Most of you know the groundhog for its famous debut each February when it comes out of hibernation to see, or not see, its shadow. But did you know that groundhogs can be found all over the United States and into Canada? We recently ran into one of these critters in the Des Moines area! This groundhog was digging underneath a seasonal porch causing a headache for a Johnston homeowner. Luckily, our exterminators were able to relocate this furry creature to a nature preserve. Find out more about groundhogs and how to spot the signs of these rodents taking over your yard.

Groundhog Habits

Eating Practices

You may be surprised to find out that the groundhogs are vegetarians! . During the summer and fall months they are persistently foraging for food to prepare for their long hibernation in the winter. They prefer to eat plants, grasses, fruits, bark, leaves and sometimes insects. Our pest professional, Brad, captured this week's critter with some lettuce and cantaloupe, which he says is a favorite treat for groundhogs in the Des Moines area.

Seeking Shelter

Groundhogs are typically found in the wild near woodlands, fields, pastures and forests. However, when found in residential areas, you're most likely to see these large rodents rummaging in your garden or digging up a safe spot under a porch or patio. They are most likely looking for a place to create a den for hibernation.

Groundhogs can be a real nuisance to homeowners since they can remove up to 700 pounds of soil when constructing their winter home. Although these critters typically travel alone, their burrows are usually quite substantial and can be up to six feet deep with multiple entrances. The groundhog our Preferred Pest Control technician found, had dug up to two wheelbarrows full of dirt before the Johnston homeowner spotted the pest under their three season porch (photo below). Loose dirt or holes in the ground near gardens, porches or patios are usually the most obvious signs of a groundhog invading your property.

groundhog hole

Fun Facts About Groundhogs

  • Another name for a groundhog is a woodchuck. This means "digger" and came from a Native American language.
  • Groundhogs only inhabit North America, and can be found in Canada and as far south as the southern United States.
  • Communication tactics for groundhogs include variations of a hiss, whistle, growl, bark or teeth-chatter.
  • Groundhogs are the largest creature of the squirrel (marmot) species.

Leading Pest Control in Des Moines

If you think you've encountered these large rodents, Preferred Pest Control can help! Our exterminators offer efficient and quality service with any pest problem. Don't wait until you have a huge problem on your hands, schedule an appointment online or call Preferred Pest today at (515) 415-5550.

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