Groundhogs diets are grounding in the fact that they are herbivores; eating a variety of green plants and flowers. But as you may well know as an animal that relishes after only plant matter and never partaking in meat groundhogs can make quite a dent in your gardens and landscaping.
Groundhogs like almost most any type of green plant imaginable! They eat leaves, flowers green stems, grasses and herbs and farm crops including clover, soybeans and alfalfa. Their do have particular favorites including backyard garden staples such as beans, corn, peas and carrots, cucumbers and melons are often targeted as an afternoon snake as well. Many flower garden beauties are included in the groundhog diet. They have also been known to climb into trees for apples nuts and pears, too! These often include perennial daises, lilies, asters, phlox and sunflowers and annual flowers such as pansies, marigold and snapdragons.
Groundhog Diet-Physical Attributes
Groundhog dietary needs are met through the assistance of several physical characteristics. These include their "thumb stubs" and evergrowing incisors.
The groundhog has what some call "thumb stubs" on their front feet. These little wonders, while not as mechanical as an opposable thumb, give the animal a firm grip, so to speak, on her food. They are able to manipulate small items with their front paws in ways that other animals cannot which gives them the ability to pick to inflict more damage to your garden plants!
Groundhogs have evergrowing incisors, as do all members of the rodent family, which make it almost a necessity to continue chewing. In fact, there have been many documented cases of groundhogs who for whatever reason cannot keep up with the growth of their front teeth by gnawing, and have consequently perished because the teeth eventually cross making it near impossible for the to feed at all.
Groundhog Diet-Seasonal Variances
Seasonal variances in the groundhog diet are based on two (2) factors, availability of certain foods and the fact that groundhogs are hibernating animals.
Unlike humans who have the ability to import goods and services from across the globe which allows us to indulge in fruits and vegetables that may be growing only in New Zealand in March, groundhogs are slaves to their environmental conditions. That said, it isn't a far jump to guess that much of their diet is based on season harvests of fruits and vegetables. The animals will enjoy apples and pears in the late summer, daises and tender hosta leaves in the spring and just about everything in between!
As an hibernating animal the dietary needs of the groundhogs ramps up in late summer because of their need to store fat for their long winter's nap. When they wake from their hibernation they may eat some protein until the green plants begin to grow again.
Groundhog Diet-Benefits and Detriments to Humans and the Ecosystem
Groundhogs are one of the few animals that have prospered as we settled North America. They have become very well accustomed to the manicured yards and gardens that have followed and with a need to fatten up for their long winter's sleep. Unfortunately,this has led to some conflict between humans and the whistle pig. For farmers the somewhat voracious appetite of the groundhog as he prepares for the hibernation is extremely damaging to crops. For homeowners the groundhog appetite can be just as devastating.
The animals often cause more than just loss of green plants. They can also damage farm equipment by way of their burrow hole entrance piles. Groundhog holes can harm farm animals walking or running in pastures where they step into a burrow hole an injure their legs. Lest we forget the damage done to trees by their instinctive territory marking habit of stripping the bark from the base of trees near their burrows.
Groundhogs are one of nature's most efficient eating machines! They continuously indulge in some our favorite foods and flowers which sometimes causes conflicts between humans and the animals. While they may be quite enjoyable to watch, their tends to be some animosity between us when it comes to the eating habits that are an innate part of the groundhog diet.