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Thread: I know I'm a woodland creature, but what am I?

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    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    I know I'm a woodland creature, but what am I?

    Today the girls and I pulled up in our driveway and saw this animal in the back of our yard by our shed. It went under the fence to our neighbor's yard and then peeked back out and we snapped this photo. It looked like it might be a beaver, yet the tail was either missing or not the right tail for a beaver.

    So, oh wise people of Master Russian, what is this animal? Maybe you can tell from the paw/foot

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    Looks like a ground squirrel or a groundhog

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    I would go for the groundhog as well.

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    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    Wow, I never heard of a ground squirrel before and would not have thought of a groundhog!

    I did some quick checking and as I live in Maryland, this comes from the University of MD, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources:

    Dealing with Nuisance Wildlife

    WOODCHUCKS (GROUNDHOGS)
    Groundhogs adapt well to suburban areas and sometimes their burrowing and feeding habits may be a problem for homeowners. The groundhog is a rodent and a large member of the squirrel family. Groundhogs live in burrows located along roadsides, fields, at the base of trees, and around building foundations. Burrows are used for mating, hiding from predators, and hibernation. Burrow systems are extensive and usually have two or more entrances. Main entrances are about a foot wide with a mound of soil around them. Secondary entrances are usually dug from below and are well hidden. Groundhogs hibernate during the winter until late February-early March. They breed in March-April and produce a single litter of two to six young. Young groundhogs leave their burrows by early July and search for their own home.

    Groundhogs can present a challenge to gardeners. They are herbivores and feed on a variety of wild and cultivated flowers, grasses, weeds, and garden vegetables such as broccoli, beans, lettuce, and squash. Groundhogs feed primarily in the early morning and evening because they depend on dew and plant moisture for their water intake. They travel only 50 to 150 feet from their den in search of food. In late August and September, groundhogs have ravenous appetites as they prepare to hibernate. Groundhogs are good climbers and persistent diggers. Fencing can reduce damage to gardens, only, if you can prevent climbing and burrowing.

    Groundhogs Under Structures
    Sometimes a groundhog may burrow under porches, garden sheds, or other outdoor structures. In some cases, homeowners coexist with the groundhog. If the burrowing conflicts with human interests, then control options need to be considered to reduce conflict and prevent future reoccurrence. Attempts to discourage groundhogs from living under a building by using repellents or scare tactics are not effective. Groundhogs usually burrow elsewhere on the property. Live trapping is an option. You can hire a licensed nuisance wildlife control cooperator to live trap a groundhog. They have access to professional baits/lures and the equipment required to do the job. If you intend to live trap a groundhog, contact the NWIL at *** for more information. No permit is required to trap a groundhog. However, permission is required from the landowner before releasing into suitable habitat. Consideration should be given to relocating groundhogs during spring while the young are in the den or in the autumn immediately before hibernation when there may not be time to establish a winter den. After the animal is removed, cover the opening with heavy poultry wire or two-inch mesh woven wire to the bottom of the building and bury the bottom of the wire 10 to 12 inches below the ground. Bending the buried section at an L-shaped angle leading outward can help prevent burrowing and future access.
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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Wow, I never heard of a ground squirrel before and would not have thought of a groundhog!
    According to wikipedia, "ground squirrel" is a totally generic term that covers a rather large number of related грызуны (rodents).

    The group includes prairie dogs (луговые собачки, lit. "meadow dogs"); chipmunks (бурундуки); marmots (сурки); susliks (суслики), and others -- although they come in very different sizes and have different lifestyles.

    The American "groundhog" (aka "woodchuck") -- as seen in rockzmom's photo -- technically belongs to the "marmot" sub-group of ground-squirrels, and is called a лесной сурок ("forest marmot") in Russian.

    And, by the way, although the name "woodchuck" seems to mean "one who chucks wood" (тот, кто бросает или выбрасивает дерево), it actually comes (via "false folk etymology") from a native Algonquian term for the animal -- wutchak.

    P.S. Thanks, wikipedia!

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    rockzmom, I'm so jealous of you!
    I'd love to see some wild creatures sneaking into my backyard, yet I've never seen anyone bigger than a hedgehog (and even hedgehogs are getting very rare).

    Of course, it probably looks less idyllic when said creatures start interfering with your interests (I know some people, who are struggling with moles)... but looking at this picture still gives me a cozy feeling.

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    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    So all this talk of woodchucks reminds me of the tongue twister I learned as a kid!

    How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
    If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
    He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
    And chuck as much as a woodchuck would
    If a woodchuck could chuck wood.

    Quote Originally Posted by gRomoZeka View Post
    rockzmom, I'm so jealous of you!
    I'd love to see some wild creatures sneaking into my backyard, yet I've never seen anyone bigger than a hedgehog (and even hedgehogs are getting very rare).

    Of course, it probably looks less idyllic when said creatures start interfering with your interests (I know some people, who are struggling with moles)... but looking at this picture still gives me a cozy feeling.
    Surprisingly, we see a number of furry creatures in our yard!

    At least one a year we see opossums. Now I don't know too many Americans who correctly call them Opossums, instead they refer to them as Possums and those are siblings; however, they are not found in the US. We had one who decided to nest in one of our garbage cans and had her litter right in the can! When we called animal control about it they said that they would kill them! We didn't like that idea too much so we let her be. Sadly, I think the cat across the street too care of the little ones I have a photo of her in the trash can somewhere around the house. If I can remember where the girls put it I'll scan it in and upload it. Those things are pretty scary at night time when you go outside and they hiss at you!!

    Our cats cornered a very little wild bunny one summer. That one we did trap to save it from being hurt by the cats and animal control said they would take it and not destroy it. So we gave it to them.

    We had a deer come running, and I mean running, through the neighborhood one morning. Thankfully it didn't do any damage to anything or itself.

    We also tend to get a number of mice and rats, not alive mind you, they come in the form of presents from our cats. They leave their treasures for us all over the driveway and yard. They thankfully stopped bringing them in the house! One time my daughter woke up to one in her bed... on her pillow. The other daughter had one on her school backpack. Wouldn't that have made a great show and tell? One of the cats brought a bird in the house, still alive! We had feathers ever where!
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