How did you fare trying to guess what Maine animal produced the track in our latest quiz?
The track may have been a tough one to guess, unless you’re a diehard outdoors enthusiast.
The answer: A woodchuck.
It is known as a groundhog in many places, but the woodchuck has carved out a definite niche here in Maine. For many folks, especially those who like to have a garden, the little mammals can be a nuisance.
Woodchucks are herbivores — which is no secret if you have ever had one living in close proximity to your vegetable garden. They eat grasses, dandelions, clover and garden crops of all types.
Last year, we had two living next door and visiting the yard frequently, but it appears as though only the younger one remains. It has been deterred thus far by the chicken wire fence around the garden.
Woodchucks actually are members of the squirrel family, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. They have dark gray or brown fur and adults are about 2 feet long, with stout bodies and stubby legs.
Woodchucks live in underground burrows, often placed along a small hill, that can measure up to 5 feet deep and 30 feet long. When the woodchucks move out, the same tunnels are used as dens by opossums, raccoons, foxes and skunks.
Woodchucks are active in the morning and evening during the warmer months, but you won’t have to deal with them during the winter. The animals are true hibernators, lowering their body temperature from 97 degrees to 40 degrees for as long as six months.