The Groundhog's Reproduction Cycle and Mating Habits

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The groundhog is one of the largest species of rodents that you are likely to encounter in the United States, and when it comes to pest animals in suburban areas, they are also one of the biggest pests you may encounter. When dealing with this kind of animal, it is important to know about their breeding cycle and mating habits, which can help you to identify whether you are dealing with an individual or family of groundhogs. The species does have a life span of up to six years in the wild, with the majority reaching around three years of age, and during this life span the groundhog may reproduce several times.

The Mating Preferences And Routines Of The Groundhog

As genuine hibernators, the groundhog's mating preferences are dictated by the seasonal conditions, and members of the species will generally rouse from their slumbers at around the same time of year. Courting begins almost immediately, and generally the males and females will copulate and will then stay together almost throughout the pregnancy, until the female is close to giving birth. Once this period becomes close, the males will usually leave the den, and will leave the female to give birth by herself.

When Are Groundhog Babies Born?

The period when the baby groundhogs are born can vary, depending on how early spring arrives and when the hibernating groundhogs rise from their annual slumber. This will usually be either in April or May, and with a gestation period of 32 days, it means that the baby groundhogs are usually born in late April or early May. When the babies are born, they are entirely hairless and blind, with a litter of up to six groundhogs being born together.

How Do Groundhogs Raise Their Young?

One of the interesting aspects of this process is that in some cases the males will then return to the den, but this doesn't happen in every case, and if the male does return it will only be for a few months before they depart again. The female will start to introduce her young to the territory shortly after they have a full coat of fur, which is at around six weeks, and then they will start to learn the habits and foraging techniques used by the adults. By August or September, the juvenile groundhogs will usually leave the family to find their own burrows and territory, and will usually become sexually active during their second year.

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