It is safe to say most Georgians have never seen a groundhog. The reason for this is groundhogs are principally residents of the northern quarter of the state. For the rest of us, our best chance of seeing this mammal is to spot one feeding in the grassy shoulder of a North Georgia highway. However, those folks fortunate enough to live in this picturesque swath of the state are well aware of the fact that groundhogs will take up residence in or near backyards.
If you live within the range of the groundhog, you are probably surprised to learn groundhogs are capable of climbing trees since they have stubby legs, weigh up to fourteen pounds, and rarely venture far from their burrows.
Homeowners are not always pleased to find a groundhog living in their backyard. This is because groundhogs eat up to 1.5 pounds of food a day, consuming a variety of plants such ornamental flowers such as roses, and food plants like a beans, strawberries, and carrots. In addition, their burrows sometimes undermine walkways, driveways, as well as building foundations.
However, in some backyards groundhogs are not a problem and provide homeowners with interesting wildlife viewing opportunities. If you watch groundhogs long enough, you may have the rare opportunity to spot a groundhog perched in a tree high above the ground. Groundhogs will climb mostly to either escape a predator or reach food. Both coyotes and dogs prey on adult groundhogs.
With an abundance of food growing close to the ground, it is hard to imagine why a groundhog would climb a tree to feed, but they do. The famous Pulitzer Prize-winning nature writer, Edwin Way Teale, wrote that he once spied a groundhog high above the ground dining grapes hanging from a grapevine that had snaked its way into the tree’s crown.
Climbing up a tree would be hard enough for a groundhog; it seems to me that it would be even hard to climb down again.
Groundhogs in trees? I find it hard to believe a groundhog is capable of such an athletic accomplishment.