Damage Caused by Woodchucks
By Chris Williams on January 6, 2016.
You may know them as groundhogs (see Woodchuck or Groundhog – It’s the Same Pest!) or even “whistle-pigs!” Woodchucks can be a real problem in residential properties where they are responsible for more than one type of damage. All of the damage that woodchucks do is “big” because they are large animals (up to 12 pounds and 27 inches long). Fortunately, woodchucks are solitary animals (until the young are born).
Woodchuck Feeding Damage – It’s difficult to grow a vegetable garden with a woodchuck residing nearby. Woodchucks are primarily vegetarians and have been known to happily eat 46 different types of plants. Their favorites are beans, peas, carrot greens, tomatoes, and various grasses and clover. Woodchucks also have a thing for fruit and will climb trees to reach fruit above. They also feed on leaves of certain trees like mulberry.
Woodchuck Gnawing Damage – Woodchucks are in the squirrel family and also must gnaw constantly to keep their incisor teeth from growing. In spring, especially, they may gnaw on the stems and trunks of trees and sometimes strip the bark. They will also claw and dig at the base of newly planted fruit trees. Like squirrels, woodchucks will gnaw randomly on decks, siding, and outdoor furniture.
Woodchuck Burrowing Damage – Woodchucks normally dig their den burrows in brushy clumps along steep edges of fields or pastures. But they will also burrow under sheds, porches, decks, or walkways, and will dig burrows under woodpiles or brush piles. Their burrows can be huge (up to 50 feet long) with many side passages and multiple entrances. Since the burrows can be up to 5 feet deep, they can damage and dry out the roots of trees and can undermine building foundations. Collapsing burrow systems are a hazard for horses, people, and lawn tractors.
The good news is that woodchucks hibernate beginning in late October to early November, giving you 4-5 damage-free months during the winter (see Yes, Woodchucks Do Too Hibernate). Even so, woodchucks sometimes break hibernation and may be seen foraging outside in winter. By early spring, there may be 4 to 5 young woodchucks in the burrow with mom.
Check out this blog (Do I Need to Get Rid of That Friendly Woodchuck?) and give Colonial Pest a call. We are fully certified and licensed by the states of Massachusetts and New Hampshire to perform Nuisance Wildlife Removal & Exclusion. Our technicians have special training and certification, and follow all federal and local regulations regarding the humane treatment and protection of wildlife. Call us when you have a problem with woodchucks or other animals on your property.