What are woodchucks? — Kenneth Spencer’s student essay

What Are Woodchucks?

“I am still learning” I need to clarify that I didn’t know about what I was going to write about because I didn’t know anything about these topics but fortunately my parents have taught me to investigate and don’t stay with questions.

When I saw “What are woodchucks” it caught my attention because is the first time I heard woodchucks. I decided to look for answers and to my surprise, I have seen this animal before but actually, I don’t know how does he live or what is his role in the world. I found out that they are also named “Groundhog” and they are original from Canada but you can find them in some parts of the US.

Some interesting facts are that they could chuck 3 tons of wood throughout all their life, that’s a lot of wood! They are the largest members of the squirrels family and this title makes me smile a lot “A dentist´s dream” Why a dentist would be happy because of a Woodchuck? Easy answer! “A groundhog’s teeth never stop growing. Their upper and lower incisors can grow up to 1/16” every week and average a length of 4 inches.” (5 COOL FACTS ABOUT WOODCHUCKS by Georgia DNR, Wildlife Resources Division)

Even though they look really cute not all people think they are good, in fact, the farmers believe they are a pest. Because they eat their products and in consequence is a problem for them! So obviously they rather have them sleeping instead of eating their food.

Groundhog popping out of his hole

“Groundhogs are known as “true hibernators,” going into a dormant state—in which their body temperature and heart rate fall dramatically—from late fall until late winter or early spring.

“True hibernators are the ones that can reduce their body temp below 20 degrees Celsius [68 degrees Fahrenheit],” says Zervanos. “Bears, for example, only drop their body temp to 30 degrees from 37 degrees Celsius [86 from 98.7 degrees Fahrenheit].”( https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/1/groundhogs-day-animals-wildlife/)

I feel identify with them; why? Because they wake up only for a very good reason! The male’s woodchucks wake up a month earlier to get a head start on reproduction. It looks like competition so they need to win a territory. “They try to defend that territory, and they go from burrow to burrow to find out if that female is still there.”

Explains Zervanos, when they finally determined where his potential mates are, they go back to the bed and sleep for another month till the time to mate!

“Woodchucks may not appear useful to humans, but they have their own place and identity in the ecosystem and should be accepted—and respected—for that alone.

They provide food for coyotes, foxes, weasels, badgers, hawks, and eagles. Their burrows give shelter to amphibians, reptiles, smaller rodents, and even larger animals such as foxes.” (https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/what-do-about-woodchucks) In my personal opinion, they have a purposed more than just being eaten by these predators so we must care for them and not treat them as the villains of some stories. Here is where I think the Pest Controls take action, not killing them but finding them a better place where they could live and fulfill their purpose in the world!

Author: Kenneth Spencer Osorio Alva

Brigham Young University-Idaho

Student Scholarships

Every year Thrive Pest Control hosts an essay contest and the reward is a 1-year scholarship at a 4-year university in the United States. This blog post is one of those scholarships.