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The Groundhog

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The Groundhog

Post by Guest on Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:28 pm

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Groundhog
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Adult

Young Groundhog

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General Information;

Type: Mammal
Diet: Herbivore
Size: Head and body, 17.75 to 24 in (45 to 61 cm); tail, 7 to 9.75 in (18 to 25 cm)
Weight: 13 lbs (6 kg)
Conservation status:

Scientific Classification: Kingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Mammalia, Order: Rodentia, Family: Sciuridae, Genus: Marmota, Species: M. monax
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:

# Groundhog Range


The groundhog, also known as a woodchuck, whistle-pig, or in some areas as a land-beaver, is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Other marmots, such as the yellow-bellied and hoary marmots, live in rocky and mountainous areas, but the woodchuck is a lowland creature. It is widely distributed in North America and common in the northeastern and central United States. Groundhogs are found as far north as Alaska, with their habitat extending southeast to Georgia. Groundhogs are the largest members of the squirrel family. Though they are usually seen on the ground, they can climb trees and are also capable swimmers. These rodents frequent the areas where woodlands meet open spaces, like fields, roads, or streams. Here they eat grasses and plants as well as fruits and tree bark. Groundhogs are the bane of many a gardener. They can decimate a plot while voraciously feeding during the summer and fall seasons.
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Physical Features;
The groundhog is the largest sciurid in its geographical range, typically measuring 40 to 65 cm (16 to 26 in) long (including a 15 cm (6 in) tail) and weighing 2 to 4 kg (4 to 9 lb). In areas with fewer natural predators and large amounts of alfalfa, groundhogs can grow to 80 cm (30 in) and 14 kg (31 lb). Groundhogs are well adapted for digging, with short but powerful limbs and curved, thick claws. Unlike other sciurids, the groundhog's spine is curved, more like that of a mole, and the tail is comparably shorter as well—only about one-fourth of body length. Suited to their temperate habitat, groundhogs are covered with two coats of fur: a dense grey undercoat and a longer coat of banded guard hairs that gives the groundhog its distinctive "frosted" appearance.
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Mental Features;
Despite their heavy-bodied appearance, groundhogs are accomplished swimmers and excellent tree climbers when escaping predators or when they want to survey their surroundings. They prefer to retreat to their burrows when threatened; if the burrow is invaded, the groundhog tenaciously defends itself with its two large incisors and front claws. Groundhogs are generally agonistic and territorial among their own species, and may skirmish to establish dominance. Outside their burrow, individuals are alert when not actively feeding. It is common to see one or more nearly-motionless individuals standing erect on their hind feet watching for danger. When alarmed, they use a high-pitched whistle to warn the rest of the colony, hence the name "whistle-pig". Groundhogs may squeal when fighting, seriously injured, or caught by an enemy. Other sounds groundhogs may make are low barks and a sound produced by grinding their teeth. When groundhogs are frightened, the hairs of the tail stand straight up, giving the tail the appearance of a hair brush.
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Diet;
Mostly herbivorous, groundhogs primarily eat wild grasses and other vegetation, including berries and agricultural crops, when available. Groundhogs also eat grubs, grasshoppers, insects, snails and other small animals, but are not as omnivorous as many other Sciuridae. Like squirrels, they also have been observed sitting up eating nuts such as shagbark hickory, but unlike squirrels, do not bury them for future use. Groundhogs hydrate through eating leafy plants rather than drinking from a water source.
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Threats towards this animal;
The threats towards this animal excluding wolves are:

Bobcats, coyotes, hawks, foxes, owls, dogs, bears, and snakes.
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Credits (c);

Images:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/ellenm1/5765761735/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gillesgonthier/7290327942/

Information:
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/groundhog/?source=A-to-Z
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groundhog
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