What should I do if I find a nest of baby groundhogs?
Even though adult groundhogs can be quite the nuisance for owners of gardens or manicured lawns, their babies are blind, hairless, and just oh-so-cute. The mother groundhog takes care of the babies for the first 5-6 weeks of their lives, but she occasionally leaves the den in order to gather food for herself. As it happens with small animals, a number of tragedies could occur to keep her away from her den and pups. If the pups get hungry enough, they may burrow out of their den to find her, and you may find yourself ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the cute, hairless creatures. However, they are not safe out in the open, and you should do everything you can to make sure they burrow back down into their den or another den made by another groundhog. Make sure you try to place them in another groundhog’s hole, and not a fox hole, rabbit hole, or snake hole. You’ll just be ensuring they don’t survive.
If you can’t get them back into their den, please note that, even though they’re adorable and defenseless, you cannot keep them as pets. They are wild animals, and you should not attempt to domesticate them. Also, don’t attempt to make them a “house” or keep them in a cage outside, as you are most likely going to attract large prey to your yard. Not only is this dangerous for you and your pets, but you will feel horrible when you’re cleaning up pieces of the cute babies soon after.
If you find yourself with baby groundhogs and you cannot get them to burrow down, the easiest solution would be to just call your local animal control. They should be able to take the babies off your hands without much fuss, and will feed and care for them until such a time as they are able to fend for themselves in a proper location. If your local animal control cannot take them in, and you’re willing to keep the animal in a cage (not as a pet) for a while, you can make calls to local veterinary clinics or animal shelters. Sometimes, people bring in injured or orphaned wild animals to rehabilitate them, and they make take your litter in as well.
It is important to note that if you find these groundhog babies under your watch for any given amount of time, do not handle them much. Although they may be cute and truly harmless at this stage, they are wild animals and should be treated as such. They can also carry bugs and things like roundworm, which can transfer to kids and pets. There is also risk of bubonic plague in groundhog and rodent populations, so do not handle the babies if they appear sick or bleeding. Call Animal Control and they will handle it.
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