New Jersey, NJ Woodchuck

Introduction

The woodchuck, Marmota monax, or commonly referred as a "ground hog," is a member of the squirrel family. The groundhog is celebrated one day of the year, February 2 or Groundhog Day, which it predicts whether or not there will be six more weeks of winter.


Biology and Habits

The distribution ofthe woodchuck is from the eastern states to the Great Plains, and throughout Canada. Woodchucks have adapted well to the land usage alterations by humans. The woodchuck habitats utilized include; forested areas, decks, sheds, patio slabs, gardens, rock walls, and open farmlands surrounded by wooded and/ or brushy areas.   

Long curved claws enable this animal to be an excellent digger. Groundhogs excavate their own holes or burrows within minutes. They develop complex burrows and tunnel networks for shelter and escape routes. These burrows provide the woodchuck a home for mattng, raising young, hibernation, and protection from threats and predators.      

Many behavioral characteristics distinguish the woodchuck from other vertebrates in North America. Woodchucks are diurnal, solitary, and are occasionally found climbing trees. Woodchucks have an annual litter that produces 2-6 hairless and blind young.  

Woodchucks are strict herbivores that forage on fruits, grasses, legumes, and plants in flower and vegetable gardens. Agricultural crops such as clover and soybeans are also favorites of this species. Due to their feeding preferences and the shortages of food in winter months, woodchucks must hibernate. They hibernate from late October to March or April depending on their geographic location.


Damages and Concerns

Woodchucks are often considered nuisance wildlife to humans and vast amounts of damage are credited to the woodchuck. The burrows and tunnels create problems for landowners. The tunnel systems form undetectable holes, which in turn create hazards and damages to farm equipment, livestock and bystanders.

Their feeding habits can give landowners headaches, as woodchucks will browse on vegetation in flower and vegetable gardens, and they also gnaw and chew on trees and woody structures. Woodchucks can cause extensive damage in a short period of time.    

There are some health concerns with woodchucks. They are occasional carriers of rabies, tularemia, and sylvatic plague. 


Control

There are various approaches to control woodchucks depending on the area. One technique is the prevention of woodchuck entry or excluding a site. To protect valuable vegetable and flower gardens fencing the area is suggested. 

Another effective technique to control woodchucks is humanely live-trapping them. A woodchuck cage trap is baited with fruits and vegetables. 

Repellents can be used to prevent feeding on plants and woody structures.  Shooting and fumigating woodchuck burrows can be implemented as a last resort basis. 


Management

To successfully control woodchuck populations you must have an integrated pest management plan. Critter Control uses more than one approach to eradicate and exclude nuisance woodchucks from your home and surrounding areas. Call a Critter Control office today for effective woodchuck control and removal services.

Eco-Wise Pest Control



New Jersey Wildlife Services

For your local Wildlife Control Expert, call 1-800-CRITTER.