Meet our resident woodchuck, Bobbie. She came to us in 2014 as a young adult from Howard, WI. Unfortunately, she had been struck by a vehicle and as a result suffered head trauma and a permanent injury to her hind left leg. Due to the injuries, she was unable to be released back into the wild, but is able to live with us at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary.
Woodchucks, being a member of the rodent family, are primarily herbivores, but may eat some bugs here or there. They love fresh produce, which is why they don’t make many friends with gardeners. Bobbie in particular loves a good carrot, an ear of corn, apple, banana, and kale. Depending on the time of year, their diet may change slightly to help gain weight. Woodchucks, also called groundhogs or whistle pigs, are true hibernators meaning they go into a deep sleep during the cold winter months. So, towards the end of August and September, they will increase the amount they eat to bulk up for the long cold months ahead.
Woodchucks utilize an extensive burrow system to protect them from predators and the long winters. Burrows can be anywhere from 2-6 feet deep with multiple entrances in case of attack or tunnel collapse, and chambers which can be used for a specific purpose such as nesting, stashing, or a bathroom. Bobbie loves to crumple blankets, leaves, and even newspaper and create her own little den area where she likes to take a nap. So stop on out to the Observation Building to see this cute little rodent, and if you happen to have a some extra produce leftover from your garden you are welcome to bring her a snack!
-Matt Rupnik, Senior Animal Keeper