Some gardeners might consider woodchucks pests—they enjoy a good salad as much as we do and will happily make a buffet of your vegetable garden. Yet these nearsighted mammals play an essential role in the ecosystem by providing food for larger predators. Their burrows also offer shelter to foxes, reptiles, amphibians and others.
From late fall through early spring, woodchucks hibernate in their burrows. That’s why it’s never a good idea to close off a burrow until you know for sure that nobody’s home.
Is that little guy a woodchuck or a groundhog? Yes! There’s no difference; both names refer to the same animal, as does “whistle pig,” an older term that nods to the animal’s distinctive alarm call.
No matter how big or small your outdoor space, you can create a haven for local wildlife. By providing basic needs like water, food and shelter, you can make a difference in your own backyard.