About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Woodchucks fattening for winter

Groundhogs, also called woodchucks, are a member of the squirrel family that weigh between 7 and 14 pounds.

When They Hibernate
Groundhogs are typically active until the first real frost of winter, often October or November. Then they hibernate until February or March.

What Happens to Their Bodies

As the days shorten and  temperatures drop a groundhog's body releases a hormone that helps guide the animal into hibernation. In their hibernation state, a groundhog's heart rate slows to around four or five beats per minute. A groundhog's body temperature falls from 98 degrees Fahrenheit to as low as 38 degrees. They don't wake up to eat like chipmunks. Their body is fueled by the fat the groundhogs have built up in the summer and fall.

Getting Ready

Groundhogs spend a good bit of the warmer months getting ready for hibernation. They eat nearly a pound of food per day in the fall to help build up his fat stores, and Then he digs a deep den that he lines with grass or twigs to make a comfy nest for his long nap.

Related Articles:
- When do bats hibernate? http://goo.gl/IES4Bt  

- When do Chipmunks hibernate? http://bit.ly/uGhBOB
- Do opossums hibernate during winter? http://bit.ly/u4ORP6
- Migration vs. Hibernation http://bit.ly/sixWTH
- Feb. 2nd groundhogs end their hibernation http://bit.ly/vPHVtx

Thank you Holly for sharing your photo! If anyone else would like to share a photograph of nature send it to bloubird@gmail.com with a description and permission to post it on the Friday Photo.   

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