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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Woodchuck VII: The Groundhog takes to the Trees!

Whether you call it a woodchuck, groundhog or whistle pig, it is all the same thing: Marmota monax. It is not unusual for an animal to have more than one common name. Some are regional while others are more widespread. The woodchuck is even called "gopher" by some, but that name is particularly confusing since there is already another animal called gopher... This is my seventh post since I began monitoring this particular woodchuck burrow with a Cuddeback Attack. Just when I think I have blogged about everything, this critter does something different! Read on...
(Seneca Falls, NY 4/12)
Many people are surprised to learn that woodchucks and other marmots are members of the squirrel family. I tell my students that there are two things that will help them remember that woodchucks are squirrels. as mentioned in a previous post, the first thing is the tail. Check out this first photo and note the bushy squirrel tail. Sure, it isn't as fluffy as the gray squirrel for example, but the woodchuck spends far more time on the ground (and under it!) than the gray squirrel. Which brings us to the second point regarding woodchucks: they climb trees just like other squirrels.
I have only seen two woodchucks in trees myself. Both times, I happened to be with students and both times the woodchuck were in fruit trees. Seeing a woodchuck in a tree will forever remind you that it is a big ol' squirrel. I still have the Cuddeback Attack set up on the woodchuck burrow in my backyard. I checked the camera last week and had 214 videos captured. That is 107 minutes to watch! About half way through I hit the jackpot; my woodchuck decided to climb. Here she is just before the video starts. She looks to be sizing up the situation...

When you watch the video, note that the woodchuck remains arboreal throughout the entire 30 seconds. In the next video segment recorded, she is down. I have been monitoring this particular burrow nonstop for weeks now and this is the first tree climbing noted.
Enjoy the video and remember to keep your eyes on the trees, watching for New York's largest squirrel.

1 comment:

  1. Such a cool video...I would love to spot a WC in the trees!


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