November 6, 2011

Wildlife Wonders of Alaska - Groundhog

You probably would have never guessed that I photographed a groundhog in Alaska! It was sheer happenstance. This particular fellow isn’t the famous Punxsutawney Phil, but he apparently is a resident pest at Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge in Fairbanks. We went to the refuge to photograph birds. But we ended up being entertained for quite a while by the antics of this groundhog, skillfully hiding, scampering, and devouring the crops in the garden planted by local rangers. I was able to capture this up-close mug shot while he was playing hide and seek under a concrete ramp to the refuge’s farmhouse visitor center. 

These animals thrive in an extensive geographic range from Alaska to Alabama. Also known as woodchucks, the groundhog is a member of the rodent family and belongs to the group of large ground squirrels called marmots. They have been referred to as “whistle pigs” because they will use a high-pitch whistle to warn the groundhog colony of danger. 

Gardeners universally hate these animals that notoriously raid vegetable gardens. Groundhogs gorge themselves in the summer to build up reserves for winter hibernation. They also love to create deep burrows for sleeping, rearing young, and hibernating. As you can expect, they are not popular creatures with horse owners either. We have personally had several tussles with them over the years! 

Here’s an interesting fact: they can climb trees! You wouldn’t guess they would have that skill with those pudgy bodies.


  1. that is a fabulous picture of the groundhog. I had no idea they could climb trees

  2. LOVE this!! My Grandmother was Constantly on the lookout for those darn Woodchucks that constantly snatched and grabbed at her beautiful garden! (CT)
    Love the closeup!!

  3. Ahhh, yes, but look at those claws! I'd wring our resident woodchuck's neck with my bare hands if I got ahold of him. He is one nasty dude. Great picture, though.

  4. What is such a great photo! We have groundhogs here in NC and love seeing them along the roads. They are so cute and seem to have their own little personalities! ♥

  5. Oh the Groundhog!!!! You are right when you say that they are not friends with gardeners... When we first moved here, we had trouble with a groundhog. We finally plugged up his holes (home) ---and he moved away... Haven't had any around since....

  6. They are cute but I know they can wreak havoc on a garden. And by the look of his claws I can see why he might be able to climb a tree.

    Great picture!

  7. Wonderful shot!

    I didn't know they could climb trees and I don't think I've ever seen one. Haven't ever had a garden LOL, well not a big one :)

    Hugs :)

  8. You are so right, gardener hate these creatures. I can remember quite well when my mom had such an infiltration, I mean it was an army of groundhogs. I thought at one point she was going to get a gun. But then they built a highway, so now instead of ground hogs we have a VERY Noisy highway. I think she'd take the groundhogs back.

  9. James told me they had to watch out for their burrows when they would go bird hunting up in the Dakotas lest they turn an ankle. I didn't realize they were such chubby critters.

  10. Hi Donna,
    It's Jann from 'Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson'. I have been on a get away with friends. I am so excited to have won your wonderful give away. Love the glitter, and the cars, WOW! Can't wait to see them in real life. My e-mail is Love your pic of Mr. Groundhog. Looks like you had a wonderful 'Groundhog Day'!

  11. He looks like one of those things by the front door that you scrape yer boots on! Bristly little dude.

  12. I recognize that fellow! One of his relatives lives under my shed. Once, just after I planted Liriope plants in a flower bed, I watch a groundhog pull each plant out of the ground, root and all, and eat them!

    I was not happy!

  13. Well....I think he is kinda cute!


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