Have you ever seen a groundhog hibernating! Most probably not, because they live inside their dens! Well, they hibernate just to save their lives. But when do they get into hibernation and when do groundhogs come out of the hibernation?
Can they die during this period? What if the winter is long? What happens when they are planning to go into hibernation? A lot of other questions are bothering you- let us solve the puzzle for you!
The Hibernating Months
A little research about the groundhogs will tell you that these babies are hibernators. Groundhogs are small in size. No matter how smart they are, they are physically weak. And also, they are prone to diseases more when the winter comes.
Woodchucks are not much capable to suffer and survive natural disasters. And so, in the winter, they plan to hibernate. So, what months do groundhogs hibernate? They are active in the first real frost of the winter which is from October to November.
And right after that, they get down to their burrows and crawling back to it, they hibernate. The hibernation period starts here and it lasts till the weather is a bit warm. In short, they come back to life in February or March. So, the hibernation period of the groundhogs is from October/November to February/March.
Total Hibernation Period
So, how long does a groundhog hibernate! As we have already said, the hibernation starts in October or November and ends in February or March; the total period is five months to six months. So, you can see that the woodchucks almost hibernate the half of the year.
If they live for three years, they take naps for almost half of their lives and only will be able to enjoy half of their life. This is the commonly known period for their hibernation.
But in some cases, this can be different too. There are times when the groundhogs hibernate for three months. And in rare cases, they might hibernate for two months too! When the days get shortened and the temperature drops, the plants start dying.
In this period, the bodies of these little rodents start releasing a specific hormone. This hormone works for guiding the animal into hibernation. The procedure works until the weather is a bit warm. When the days are longer, the hormone doesn’t work anymore on the bodies of the rodents. And finally, they get out of their hibernation.
Long-Winters for Hibernation
Well, yes, there are times when the winter is long. Whenever you are counting the days of the hibernation of a groundhog, keep in mind that you have to work on the temperature of that specific location where the groundhog is hibernating.
For this, the first question you should be answering is why do groundhogs hibernate? The reason behind groundhogs hibernating is not finding fresh leady resources. These are what they eat! So, in short, if the leafy resources are not there, what will they eat throughout the winter?
In this crisis, they plan to hibernate so that they can save themselves, keep in good weight, and maintain the heart rate for survival. In winter, their heart rate is not stable. But what if the winter is long? Before, we have told you that the average hibernation period of a groundhog is 5-6 months.
But when the winter is long, what will a groundhog do? Their body has the capability of the groundhog to hibernate for as long as 8 months or more if needed. When the winter is long, the hibernation process gets long too.
Do Groundhogs Eat During Hibernation?
No! Groundhogs don’t eat while they are hibernating. The point of entering hibernation is to conserve or preserve the left energy for the short supply of food during the winter. During this period, they enter a state which is called Torpor. This state helps is saving energy by slowing the metabolism along with the breathing and heart rate.
Groundhogs Hibernation Death
You know about the hibernation period and when a groundhog will come out of the den after winter is over. But if the winter is long, can a groundhog die? Well, yes, a groundhog can die during its hibernation.
Often, when the winter is long and the groundhog is not capable to keep up with its heart rate, it can die during this period. Also, as we have mentioned above, they need a proper diet in the summer. If they don’t get proper food, their body won’t cope up while in hibernation and they will die.
So, what do groundhogs eat in the summer to save energy in winter? Veggies and green, my friend! In some situations, the body of the woodchuck can freeze during hibernation too. The body temperature gets to 37 degrees from 99 degrees. And in these situations, they can freeze to death.
How do Groundhogs Prepare for Hibernation: Eat, Hibernate, Repeat
All we have talked about here is how and when the groundhogs come out of the hibernation period. But do you know about what they do or about the preparation for hibernation? We will tell you in a short while.
Eat like Monsters
To get out of hibernation, the groundhogs have to stuff their body with food right before they get into hibernation. If you ever see the lawn losing so many greens right before the winter, well, you know who the culprit is!
Throughout the summer, they get more food than they need just because they have to survive throughout the winter with that food. In the fall, they eat one pound every day and store this fat. So, in the summer, if you are planning to trap them, what do groundhogs eat to trap? All the greens of your garden!
Raise Kids Quickly
The female groundhogs get their babies in the spring. So, their babies are already there in March or April. The babies get mature throughout the summer and learn how to dig their dens alone. And finally, when the winter comes, they all hibernate.
After they are done with the food, how do groundhogs prepare for hibernation inside the den? When they are done with growing their babies and stuffing their bodies with food, they get the plan of digging a deep den. Then the groundhogs line it with grass or twigs. They use this to create a comfy nest around him for the long hibernation period.
From getting into hibernation to getting out of the period, the process is not easy. Their heart rate and breathing, both get low. And the worst part is their body weight gets less than half. Would you survive if you were a groundhog in the winter? Would you come out of the hibernation as they do?