Saturday, May 3, 2008

Camera Critters: A Look At Eastern Wood Chucks


The Eastern Woodchuck is an animal, which shares many physical characteristics with the Marmot, which inhabits the western states. This animal likely derived its' name from originally being a woodland species. It adapted well to the presence of man and developed a preference for crops. They are notorious for damaging hayfields and gardens. Their place of abode is holes, which they dig into the earth. Livestock sometimes breaks legs by stepping in these holes and they can damage farming equipment. The animals also dig the holes along foundations of buildings. It is common to find them in close proximity to humans where an aggressive extermination program is not implemented.

Hunting these animals is termed "varmint hunting" and some pursue them throughout the warm weather months, often killing large numbers of them.

If they are in an area where they do not cause the above problems, they are beneficial animals with the holes providing escape routes for other species of wildlife such as rabbits, to elude predators.


Adult Woodchuck: Canon 10-D 500mmF4



This animal is pictured in a clover field which was planted solely as a wildlife feeding area, so its' presence was not a problem and the animals are not culled in this area. This is one of my favorite woodchuck shots because of the animal rubbing its' eye. The animals ordinarily travel and feed in a horizontal position with all four feet on the ground, but they repeatedly stand erect to survey the countryside for danger.

A unique opportunity occurred today when friends were loading fence posts from the lower story of a backcountry barn and uncovered a nest of young chucks. There was no opportunity for photos there due to it being too dark, so one of the chucks was carried into the open for a photographic session.

Ordinarily one is told not to handle the young of wildlife, but in this case the animal was immediately released back into the wild and I have no reason to believe that the brief human contact will cause the mother to abandon the young animal. It is not as though we were searching for a nest to photograph, but rather the nest was inadvertently disturbed in removing the posts and we seized the opportunity to photograph one of the young animals.



Juvenile Eastern Woodchuck: Canon 40D: 17-40mmF4L

It is likely that this animal was born within the last week or so and is quite young indeed!

Major natural predators that keep woodchuck populations under control in many cases are coyotes, and foxes.

Visit Misty Dawn to view more Camera Critters posts!

24 comments:

imac said...

Once more you have produced a fantasic post Willard.
beautiful photos and all the info, certainly 1st class Blog.


Thanks for visiting my blog and your kind comments.

Abraham Lincoln said...

A special post, Willard. I like the words as well as the photographs. Nice work.

Sharon said...

Wonderful pictures and an interesting post! They sure are cute little things. You can tell the little one is very young, his ears are all folded up! I'm glad you took advantage of the situation to get this picture. We don't often get to see things like this.

Thank you for your kind words on my post.

fishing guy said...

Willard: This is not one of my favorite animals. They are very destructive to my garden and have burrowed under my neighbors shed.

This is a great picture of a shy woodchuck. He really didn't want his picture taken.

K. Bear-Mom said...

wow how cute...

Misty Dawn said...

This is a GREAT post. And, yes, I listen to my husband cursing about these critters ever year (we're farmers). But, they're so darn cute - shhhhh, don't tell him I said that.

Old Wom Tigley said...

Another excellent post with amazing info. These are something I have heard much about but never seen really close up.

ratmammy said...

Wow, up close and personal!

DeeMom said...

Beautiful pictures...

YA one could break a leg in those holes, OR recently a tractor tire got too close...

Wonderful information

storyteller said...

Wonderful capture! I enjoyed the information. I recall encountering marmots in the High County of Yosemite while hiking many years ago, but didn’t succeed in taking a photograph ... nor did I see a 'baby' like you included here. Thanks for sharing. My Camera Critters is at Small Reflections.
Hugs and blessings,

babooshka said...

Those are terrifc images. I am unfamiliar with woodchucks, but they do look adorable.

i beati said...

woodchucks up close good one

Lilli & Nevada said...

LOL i have rock chucks on my post must be a week for Marmots

AppleDebbie said...

Wonderful photos!

Katney said...

They definitely look like our marmots.

Stacey Huston said...

LOL hello willard, I agree, this woodchuck is adorable covering it's eye.. " Don't look"! Very educational post.. thanks so much for sharing.

Kerri said...

Oh, I love both shots, but of course the baby is ADORABLE!
Great Post!!

Gretchen said...

Really great shots, as always. :) That baby one is too adorable. Never been lucky enough to get one of those.

lv2scpbk said...

Cute little fellow.

quintarantino said...

Once more you have produced a fantasic post

Travis said...

That first photo is just amazing. Your posts continue to get better and better. Great work.

carl in ga said...

By the way, Willard ... Hannah named him Taz (since it was a boy). She said he looked like the Tazmanian Devil from the cartoons. By this time next year, he'll be tearing up all the fields!! Watch where you step.

Good seeing you!!!

Willard said...

Carl,
Taz, it is! Now if I can identify him when I see him again.

I really enjoyed the visit too!

Marvin said...

Great shots of the woodchucks. I never seen a young one before.

I can tell you from personal experience: When tomatoes you saw on the vines in the AM are gone when you return to pick in the PM, you've got a woodchuck living nearby.