I swear, this year I have seen more groundhogs than ever before. It got me thinking, I can't be the only person noticing this, can I? Am I the only one worried about this sudden uptick in GIANT SQUIRRELS?

What Is a Groundhog?

Seriously, that's what groundhogs are. I always just assumed they were massive rodents, like a less-cool version of a capybara. But according to my research (and tufts.edu) they're actually in the squirrel family and can weigh up to 15 lbs. They are very closely related to prairie dogs and chipmunks.

For the sake of consistency in this article, I will be referring to the animal as a groundhog, but they also go by woodchucks and whistle pigs. 

Why Are Groundhogs Suddenly All Over Michigan?

Turns out, the frequency of my groundhog sightings is likely due to the fact that they've all come out of hibernation. They typically come out of hibernation near the end of February.

Additionally, mama groundhogs have just given birth. Groundhog mating season is in early spring, and a full-term-groundhog pregnancy lasts just one month. Groundhog litters are typically 2-6 babies. These new groundhog families will part ways in the coming fall.

On top of all of that— simply put, there are a sh*t ton of groundhogs. I tried my darndest to find Michigan's groundhog numbers but fell short. However, Business Insider reported that Arkansas has approximately 67,000 groundhogs. Noting that is one groundhog per every 45 people. Yikes.

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What Do I Do If I Have a Groundhog in My Yard?

As fuzzy and sweet as Punxsutawney Phil may seem, you probably don't want a groundhog burrowing through your yard and garden.

I'm personally never pro-killing animals but groundhogs are on Michigan DNR's list of nuisance animals that property owners can kill.

The Michigan DNR also provides great options for prevention and control of the animal too:

  • Place fencing around gardens to keep groundhogs out. Fencing should be at least 3 feet tall and made of thick wire. Bury the fencing under the ground about 12 inches deep as well, to keep groundhogs from digging under the fence.
  • Groundhogs can climb nursery, orchard, or ornamental trees to access fruits. Place metal flashing or tree guards around the trees, at least 3 feet high.
  • Place fencing under decks and porches to keep woodchucks from tunneling underneath.
  • If a woodchuck den exists on property, place an ammonia-soaked towel in its den. Used cat litter may also be effective as it smells strongly of ammonia. Moth balls cannot be placed in the den, as they are considered an insecticide.

It is also important to note that you should not ever approach or try to touch a groundhog yourself. According to Michigan Animal Control, they carry a host of various diseases and will attack if provoked.

We had our own run-in with a groundhog.

We went with the trusty trap and release option. Follow the link below for the play-by-play.

Groundhog Stealthily Breaks Into Flint, MI Radio Station (banana1015.com)

More about animals here in Michigan:

7 Mammals That Are on Michigan's Threatened or Endangered List

Here are seven mammals that have been placed on Michigan's threatened and endangered list.

Gallery Credit: YouTube

Barndominium Linden, Michigan

Gallery Credit: Red Fin/Remax Platinum/Real Comp