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  • Rochester Educational Article of the Month - What is a Groundhog's Natural Diet?

What is a Groundhog's Natural Diet?

Before we understand the Rochester groundhog's natural diet, it is good to have a basic understanding of their habitat because it is in their habitat that they find their food after all.

Groundhogs have a broad range of habitats that can span from:
• Fields
• Farmlands
• Edges of forests
• Meadows
• Yards
• Diet

It is in these areas where the New York groundhog finds the bulk of its diet. They will often eat:
• Foliage (from bushes)
• Crops (such as peas, lettuce, beans, squash, broccoli, corn and soybeans)
• Nuts
• Ferns
• Flowers
• Grass
• Fruit (such as cherries and blackberries)

They also have a particular taste for some plant species such as:
• Aster
• Chickweed
• Clover
• Dandelion
• Plantains
• Sorrel
With such an abundance of food, no wonder that a fully mature Rochester groundhog can take in more than a pound of plant matter daily!

Groundhogs aren't exactly a hundred percent herbivores as we are most likely to think. They will sometimes dine on small creatures such as:
Bugs (june bugs and grasshoppers)
Young birds

How do they eat
Groundhogs are assisted in their eating with what is called "thumb stubs" which are located in their front feet. These are somewhat similar to opposable thumbs that are found in primates and us humans. Though "thumb stubs" aren't as dexterous as opposable thumbs, it allows for a better grip for New York groundhogs when they pick up and manipulate their food. These thumb stubs give them ability of to pick up small items with their front paws unlike many other animals. For the farmer or gardener, this can a nightmare as they can easily inflict more damage on their gardens and fields in their search for food. Groundhogs also have "ever-growing" incisors just like any other member of the rodent family. This is very important as groundhogs do a lot of chewing as one can imagine. Groundhogs will often gnawing on wood so that they can keep their incisors nice and neat. However, in some cases, Rochester groundhogs whose incisors no longer grow will often die.

When do they eat
Groundhogs will often eat for long periods. When they are eating, they can last up to two hours! You will often find a Rochester groundhog eating during the morning and later again, sometime during the afternoon. In this sense, we can say that groundhogs are dinural creatures as they often are more active during the day rather than at night.

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