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Woodchucks Preparing to Give Birth

Roughly a month ago woodchucks were at the peak of their mating season.  New England’s largest member of the Squirrel family is about to give birth to two to six young chucks. In preparation for this event, dead grasses are gathered and carried by mouth to the underground nest chamber, which is about 15 inches in diameter. Woodchucks are tidy rodents — the female covers her young’s waste with new bedding placed directly over the old, and when the nest becomes too bulky or unsanitary, the matted material is removed and fresh bedding is added.

3 responses

  1. Aha! That explains why we’ve been seeing our local groundhog carrying away the hay we use as mulch on the paths around our garden – for some reason I had thought groundhogs gave birth earlier in the season, and was puzzled as to why they’d be lining their nests at this point. Is it the females only who make the nest? Are the males even still around?

    May 15, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    • Hi Kellyann,
      It’s my understanding that the female woodchuck drives the male out of the den just prior to giving birth, and then she does all the feeding and care for the young. They are weaned at five or six weeks and on their own shortly thereafter. It’s very possible that your woodchucks were born earlier and that the hay being collected was for supplementing the nest .

      May 16, 2012 at 11:38 am

      • Thanks, Mary; I think I was misinformed about the time groundhogs generally give birth. I think it was a field guide, and may have been giving information about groundhogs’ behavior in a warmer climate.

        May 16, 2012 at 3:57 pm

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