The groundhog is a fascinating mountain mammal that can be seen in the summer, especially because it spends so much time hibernating! Let’s learn about the Alpine marmot and What Do Groundhogs Eat, the most prevalent species in this area, and how to study it without bothering it.
Characteristics of the Groundhog
Groundhogs (Marmota) are small burrowing mammals in the Sciuridae family of the Rodentia order (rodents). The genus Marmota has roughly fifteen species, some of which are more common in Eurasia and others in North America. The Alpine marmot is the most common in Europe, and it may be found in the mountains between 800 m and 3,000 m. It can be found in both the Alpine and Central European massifs (Carpathians).
The marmot reaches approximately 70 cm in length as an adult, with a bushy tail of 20 to 25 cm and a weight of about 5 kg. Its fur is yellowish brown on the back, beige on the belly, dark brown on the head, black at the end of the tail, and brown at the base, and is much thicker in the winter.
This burrowing mammal spends the most of its time utilising its strong and long claws to dig ramified galleries 15 cm in diameter in loose dirt. The shallow galleries can range in length from 3 to 10 metres. To continue its progress, the groundhog uses its forelegs to reject all of the soil it releases on each side, and its hind legs to expel the rubble outside the hole.
She burys the main entrance to her burrow beneath a large enough stone to allow her to manoeuvre around it. Marmots dig three types of burrows: one to shelter the litter during the summer (summer burrow), one to hibernate (hibernation burrow, also known as the hibernaculum), and one to take refuge immediately (hibernation burrow, also known as the hibernaculum) ( false terrier or escape terrier).
A burrow should be built in the near vicinity of a well lit grassy area. Groundhogs also ensure that they have an unobstructed vision so that intruders or predators do not catch them off guard. This is why they always choose the adrets, which alternate rock gardens and lush herbs. These mountain slopes receive far more sunshine than the ubacs, who barely get a brief glimpse of the sun.
Alpine marmot: food
Groundhogs eat in the morning and afternoon, but if the weather is too hot, they may skip meals to keep cool in their burrows. It’s a warm-blooded creature.
It eats plant and animal-based meals like grass and new shoots, as well as seeds, invertebrates like worms and spiders, and insects of all types. She utilises her forelimbs to keep her meal in place and consume it easily.
The groundhog consumes a large amount of food prior to hibernation. This causes the fat layer to thicken. The weight of a groundhog doubles every six months.
Long-lasting hibernation in groundhogs
The groundhog hibernates for about six months and emerges from its burrow as soon as the weather begins to warm up. The start of this phase comes at the end of September. These rodents congregate in families during social hibernation, with the oldest individuals benefiting the entire community. To secure their survival, all marmots in a social group congregate in the hibernaculum. They form a huddle and curl into a ball. The burrow’s entrance is totally blocked by stone, leaf, and grass heaps.