I met a couple new friends this late summer. I had begun to notice a couple of Groundhogs, aka – Woodchucks, at Wild Acres Park in Overland, not too far from home. These fascinating animals are quite tolerant of people and will allow for close viewing in areas like parks where they are accustomed to those who mean them no harm. See the photo below for what I am assuming/hoping is a reproductive pair.
Groundhogs undergo hard hibernation. I began to see less of these guys, foraging for their favorite plant foods around the entrances to their burrows, as the autumn advanced. I believe the last I saw of them was late November or early December. Once asleep, Groundhogs will hibernate in their burrows until February, in which they may loose up to half their autumn body weight. A brief courtship/mating season is then held, followed by an average of 4-5 pups in late March. I will be keeping an eye out for that.
The photo above shows a Groundhog doing its second favorite past time, basking in or near a burrow entrance. I have been able to find four burrow entrances in the park so far.
Hopefully this crazy El Niño winter is not affecting these guys too badly as they take their winter naps deep inside their burrows. I’m looking forward to spring.