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Woodchucks

The woodchuck is a common game animal and is a resident of the Laurel Lake area. Woodchucks are known as groundhogs, whistle pigs, etc., Woodchucks are rodents and are related closely to squirrels. Woodchucks burrow through the ground.

The woodchuck grows to 26 inches in length and to a weight of up to 15 pounds. Woodchucks are found in open fields, woodlands,meadows, and pastures. Adults rarely move more than a half-milefrom their homes. Everything they need for life can be found within that area. They eat a variety of vegetation in the morning and early evening.

Woodchucks have a keen sense of hearing, sight, and smell. When feeding, a woodchuck usually raises its head every 10 seconds to check for danger. The adults are good fighters. Woodchucks are greatclimbers and they are very agile.

Woodchucks hibernate during the winter. They eat heavily throughoutearly fall to accumulate body fat and prepare to shelter in theirburrows all winter. During the winter, the woodchucks' heartbeat,metabolic processes, and temperature fall off drastically.

During February and March, males are the first to leave burrows.At this time, males fight aggressively. Fat stored before hibernationsustains the woodchuck until green vegetables appear. Females give birth after a 28-day gestation period to 3 to 4 young. Like other mammals, young are born blind, hairless, and unable to care for themselves.They remain underground for about 1 month. By July, the young leave home and establish their own burrows.

Dogs and foxs are major predators of woodchucks.