Groundhog/Marmot (Marmota monax)
To start a new month of identifying species around home base I offer you the Groundhog/Marmot. This fellow appeared out of the blue in the garden twards the end of May and after making a short foray onto the deck contented himself (herself?) bu checking out the bank between our garden and the one on the other side of the fence. Nice and shady and generally protected but used as a highway by cats and foxes and skunks. If he/she has been attracted by the newly planted vegetable garden then there willbe words bewteen us.
Taxonomically they are squirrels. Groundhogs have four incisor teeth which grow 1.5 mm per week. Constant usage wears them down again by about that much each week.Unlike the incisors of many other rodents, the incisors of groundhogs are white to ivory-white. Groundhogs are well-adapted for digging, with short, powerful limbs and curved, thick claws. Unlike other sciurids, the groundhog’s tail is comparably shorter—only about one-fourth of body length. prefers open country and the edges of woodland, and is rarely far from a burrow entrance. Marmota monax has a wide geographic range. It is typically found in low-elevation forests, small woodlots, fields, pastures and hedgerows. It constructs dens in well-drained soil, and most have summer and winter dens. Human activity has increased food access and abundance allowing M. monax to thrive.