Invasion of the Groundhogs
Groundhogs invade the backyard. The cats get curious. A confrontation of momentous proportions. Nah, not really!
These Groundhogs Have A New Home
Is it written groundhog or ground hog? Who knows? Who cares? However it is written makes no difference when they decide to take up residence in your backyard.
So, there I was sitting on my deck one sunny, Ohio morning. Coffee in hand, contemplating the day ahead. Then I heard some rustling among the hostas close by. At first, I didn't take much notice. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I noticed some movement. Turning, I saw two smallish furry creatures emerging from the undergrowth.
A phrase went through my head that I can't type here because, at first, I thought they were rats and I was about to go into Rambo mode. Taking a closer look, I realised these couldn't be rats. Wrong tail, a little too big...and to be honest, kinda cute looking.
So, I thought I would grab my camera and take a few snaps. The idea was to send them through to my mum in England, as it had dawned on me that these were baby groundhogs (or ground hogs). We don't have them over there, so this was the first time I had been up close and personal with one (or two). Yes, I was a groundhog virgin!
It's My House and I Live Here!
Under the Deck: The Groundhog Hilton
The next day I was out on the back deck once again trying to clean it up after the long, cold Ohio winter, when one by one, seven baby groundhogs emerged from underneath it. Yes, seven! With their parents no doubt setting up home there, that would make nine of the blighters using the protection of my deck as their Hilton Hotel for the Spring. There was not much I could do about it. As landlord, I had no rental agreement and I wasn't about to tear the deck apart to evict them.
They seemed to like my weed infested lawn, particularly the clover. Perhaps this is what attracted them to this part of town: a warm, cozy deck and a neverending food supply. Heck! They could eat as much of the damned clover as they wanted. I was more concerned about what was going on underneath the deck - particularly so close to the house.
Baby Ground Hogs Get Adventurous
Discovering A Play Area
Up until this point these cute, cuddly babies with the buck teeth and flipper-like claws, had been exclusively interested in my "well-manicured" lawn. But like all young kids, they wanted to expand their horizons and discover what other mischief they could get themselves into.
Not satisfied with their diet of clover and dandelions, they thought they might find some tasty morsels awaiting them in the plant pots I had left on the deck from last season. Unfortunately, they were sadly disappointed. This cupboard was bare. However, they did make the best of a bad situation by using the pots as their play area. Yes, a free kids' park was attached to their residence where they could tumble around and have fun out of the watchful eye of Mama Groundhog.
While they were not as camera shy as their parents, trying to snap a few photographs of their playtime was next to impossible. Upon my opening of the door to the deck, they looked at me and scattered like naughty schoolchildren. Another photo op foiled!
Groundhogs Versus Cats
An Informal Introduction
Standing in the kitchen making my habitual cup of coffee, all hell was suddenly let loose as my three cats made a mad dash to the glass door leading to the deck. This was the fastest I had seen them move since threatening to give them each a bath.
Let me introduce you to Zoe, my white cat.
As you can see from the pictures below, the baby groundhogs decided to get even more adventurous, thinking they were going to explore the main residence. Zoe had other ideas. Curiosity go the better of her and the groundhog, as they met nose to nose at the glass door. Here was the groundhog thinking there could be more food inside; Zoe thinking this creature was her next meal.
As it turned out, it became quite a friendly confrontation, thanks to the glass that separated them. Zoe laid down believing this looked like a great new toy, while the groundhog stared her in the eye taunting her with its presence.
It's My New BFF!
Emma Does Her Thing
Not to be outdone, my black cat Emma decided she wanted a piece of the action too. Muscling her way in, she went into protective mode. Looking at me and then the groundhog, her demeanour spoke volumes. "Hey Dad, you're not going to let that thing in the house, are ya?"
The groundhog became bored with this type of approach, turned its back and decided to investigate a dead leaf instead. Unrattled, Emma sat watching it, just to make sure it didn't make any false moves, trying to fake it out.
Satisfied she had protected me enough, and her curiosity fulfilled, she wandered off leaving the groundhog a clear view of the kitchen.
What Are You Staring At?
Is That the Best You Can Do?
Now You See Me - Now, You Don't!
Groundhog Hide and Seek
In an attempt to grab the cats' attention once again, and no doubt thinking they would make ideal playmates, the groundhogs began their own version of hide and seek.
Scuttling to the door, then hiding on the adjoining fence, they appeared and reappeared at short intervals, sitting on their hind legs trying to get a better view inside the house. By now, the cats had become thoroughly bored, taking the attitude that if I was not going to let them outside and have at these poor excuses for catnip, then they'd rather go back to sleep.
Undeterred, the groundhogs kept up their playfulness for several minutes, until they too gave up. Deciding that chasing dead leaves and eating the remains of what was left inside my sorry plant pots were the better options, they returned to the makeshift playground I had inadvertently provided for them.
More About Groundhogs or Woodchucks
What I Have Learned About Groundhogs
- Groundhogs are rodents - big ones, eventually.
- They'll eat virtually any vegetation.
- Forget planting any fruit or vegetables. They'll be gone by the next day.
- They dig burrows, sometimes huge ones. Is 46 feet of tunnels, five feet underground big enough?
- Baby groundhogs are paparazzi seekers.
- They sit on their hind legs like a periscope as an alert mechanism.
- They quite like my cats.
- They prefer clover and dandelions as an appetizer. Leave these weeds in your lawn and you too can enjoy the delights of a groundhog family.
- There really is a Groundhog Day.