What do you feed baby groundhogs

How to Care for a Groundhog Baby

By Jennie Dalcour | Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening gloves

  • Towels or blankets

  • Infant electrolyte solution

  • Oral syringe

  • Puppy milkd replacer

  • Cloth

  • Cotton ball

  • Cage

  • Drip water bottle

  • Rabbit pellets

  • Fruits and vegetables

Groundhogs, also called woodchucks, are well-known for their holiday and ability to predict the coming of spring. They are proficient at raising their young, so you will rarely see abandoned babies; however parental death or severe rainstorms will sometimes create orphans that need care. These brown, furry rodents may seem cute and cuddly, but they do not make good pets and will need to be released to the wild when they are capable of fending for themselves. Additionally, most states have laws prohibiting keeping groundhogs as pets.

Avoid picking up the groundhog with bare hands. Use gardening gloves to gently pick up the groundhog. Pet Care Tips, an animal advice website, advises you to immediately wrap the woodchuck in towels or blankets to keep it warm.

Heat an infant electrolyte solution to body temperature over the stove or in the microwave. Fill an oral syringe with the electrolyte solution and offer to the groundhog every couple of hours.

Fill the oral syringe with puppy milk replacer. To feed the groundhog, hold it firmly in a towel or blanket, covering its eyes. Offer the syringe and the groundhog will quickly drink the contents. Stop feeding if air bubbles develop in the syringe, and expel the air. Use a damp cloth to wipe its face. Repeat feeding every two hours.

Stimulate the groundhog’s bowels and bladder with a wet cotton ball after every feeding. Keep stroking the genital area until the groundhog is done urinating. A groundhog may not empty its bladder or bowls until it is six weeks old.

Provide the groundhog with a large cage. Place a drip water bottle in the cage. At four weeks old introduce solid foods. Baby groundhogs can eat rabbit pellet food, apples and other fruits. At five weeks old they can begin eating vegetables.

Call a local wildlife rehabilitator or your local game and fish department. They will have more appropriate resources to care for the baby groundhog and release it to wild when it can care for itself.


  • If the groundhog starts sneezing while drinking formula immediately stop feeding, hold the groundhog upside down and rub its back until it stops sneezing out the milk. Aspirating formula can lead to pneumonia or sudden death. If you do not stimulate the groundhog’s bladder, the bladder can rupture and the woodchuck will die.


  • Pet Care Tips: Caring for an Orphaned Groundhog
  • Orphaned Wildlife Care: Care for Orphaned Woodchucks
  • Diamond Rock Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic: Baby Groundhogs
  • Iowa State University: Iowa Mammals

Photo Credits

Writer Bio

Jennie Dalcour began writing Internet content in 2009. She has worked several years in the telecommunications industry and in sales and marketing. She has spent many years teaching young children and has spent over four years writing curriculum for churches. She is now pursuing a Masters of Arts in clinical psychology at Regent University and has ample experience with special needs children.

What Do Baby Groundhogs Eat?

Updated November 22, 2019

By Jane Peterson

The diet of a baby groundhog, also known as a woodchuck, consists of mother’s milk followed by a weaning diet of grasses and vegetables. As the baby grows, additional foods such as fruits, small insects and nuts will be added to the diet. Baby groundhogs in a rehabilitation setting require a milk substitute followed by weaning on natural foods.

Natural Baby Groundhog Diet

Baby groundhogs are born approximately one month after the groundhog mating season during March and April. The babies are completely dependent on the mother, and they nurse on the mother for an average of four to six weeks after birth. When the babies are weaned at around 6 weeks of age, they begin to consume vegetable matter. During this time they leave the den they were born in, and they venture outside to feed on nutritious cloves, grasses and other easily accessible vegetable foods.

Abandoned Baby Groundhog Diet

Abandoned baby groundhogs will be rehydrated with a rehydration solution before they are fed. Once the baby groundhogs are hydrated and able to feed, they are given a puppy milk substitute (specifically Esbilac – available at pet stores and veterinarian clinics). Any other type of milk substitute, including goat, cow, or human milk substitutes can be lethal to the baby groundhog. Tiny amounts must be fed using the right type of technique or the baby can aspirate the liquid.

Growing Baby Groundhog Diet

When the abandoned baby groundhog is ready to be weaned, small amounts of vegetable matter will be slowly introduced into the diet until the baby is completely weaned. Additional vegetables, such as wild grasses, apples and pears, will be added to increase the variety of the growing groundhog’s diet. Foods like berries, grubs and nuts can also prepare the groundhog for release.

In nature, baby groundhogs will slowly begin to venture further and further from the den to increase their diet of foraged grasses, vegetables, small insects, nuts and fruits; they will also begin to create their own dens at around 8 weeks of age

Baby Groundhog Considerations

Never remove a baby groundhog from its environment unless the baby is injured. If you think the baby may have been orphaned, wait and watch to make sure. The East Tennessee Wildlife Rehabilitation Council advises wearing gloves to gently pick up an injured or orphaned baby groundhog; the baby should then be placed in a secure ventilated box on top of a soft cloth and warmed with a heating pad set on low and placed under half of the box -- the baby should be able to move away from the heat source if it becomes too hot.

If you find an injured or orphaned baby groundhog, secure the baby and call your nearest wildlife rehabilitation center. Baby groundhogs need special feeding schedules, feeding techniques, diet and care in order to survive. Do not attempt to rehabilitate or feed a baby groundhog yourself; in most states it is illegal to keep wildlife in your home without a permit.

What to feed the marmot. A little about their diet

Marmot. A photo. Lukyanov Sergey

First of all, when starting a marmot, one should pay special attention to the proper nutrition of the animal. Several rules must be strictly followed:

1. Groundhogs must not be fed spicy, fried, fatty foods.
2. Groundhogs should be fed twice a day, morning and evening.

Groundhogs should not be fed protein food of animal origin (milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc.) because the animal's digestive system is not adapted to this kind of food.

But there is an opinion that such food is not harmful. Here is what Oleg Brandler writes about it :

“My marmots drink milk and eat cottage cheese and cheese with great pleasure. It does no visible harm to them. You should not only give milk to little marmots until August. I also sometimes cook them a sweet pasta milk soup. They also like boiled potatoes. I have experience of feeding marmots with food waste from the canteen at the biological station of Kharkiv University, where there used to be a large collection of live marmots of various species. This food did not cause any harm to the marmots, and they successfully bred” .

Groundhogs are vegetarians: grasses are the main food. They can be fed with hay, greens: clover, dandelion leaves and flowers, cereal grasses, but cabbage should not be given, because. this can lead to flatulence, i.e. excessive accumulation of gases in the intestines.

Edible plants (herbs)

Photo 1. Aegopodium podagraria "variegata"

Photo 2. Large plantain (Plantago major L.) of the Plantain family (Plantaginaceae)

Photo 3. Dandelion leaves Taraxacum officinale

Photo 4. Ivanchai (fireweed) Epilobium angustifolium

Padovan Alfalfa

Animals love nuts: pine, forest and walnuts. But at the same time, it should be borne in mind that, despite such love, they should not be given plenty of nuts. It is best to give hazelnuts, but no more than 3-5 pieces per day. A separate topic is peanuts, which can carry the danger of invisible fungi (toxins). Therefore, you need to ensure that there are no brown or gray spots on the peanuts. And I wouldn't recommend groundhogs to give it at all. Also, you can not give almonds and apricot pits, because. they contain hydrocyanic acid harmful to animals.

Marmots willingly eat sunflower seeds, grains of oats, rye and wheat at the stage of milk and wax ripeness. In the diet of the animal must be vegetables and fruits. Very useful for rodents alfalfa. It can be offered to marmots in the form of germinated grass sold in supermarkets or in the form of ready-made feeds, such as Padovan Alfalfa. (see photo).

Compound feed

Compound feed PK-90-1

In addition to the above feed, you can add granulated feed. These feeds can be purchased at the Bird Market. Estimated cost of feed KK-122 (for rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas). In addition to the above recipe, you can use PC 90-1, intended for feeding rabbits.

Composition PK-90-1*:

  • Ground oats or ground wheat – 19%
  • Ground barley or ground corn - 19%
  • Cake, meal (soybean, sunflower) - 13%
  • Wheat bran - 15%
  • Hydrolysis yeast, meat and bone meal, ash up to 20% - 1%
  • Herbal flour - 30%
  • Table salt - 0. 5%
  • Fish meal (meat meal. Protein from 60 to 70%) - 2%
  • Bone meal - 0.5%

100 grams of compound feed contains: feed units - 83.6 gr., crude protein - 17.2-18.4 gr., digestible protein - 13.2-14.1 gr., crude fat - 2.8-4.3 gr., metabolic energy - 255-258 kcal., calcium - 0.96 gr., phosphorus - 0.59 gr.

*Source: V.G. Plotnikov, N.M. Firsov. Cultivation, feeding and maintenance of rabbits. M. 1989.

Composition KK-122:

  • Oats - 14.0%
  • Barley without film - 11.0%
  • Wheat - 5.0%
  • Sunflower meal** - 15.1%
  • Wheat bran - 5.0%
  • Feed yeast 1C - 4.0%
  • Grass flour, grade 3 - 40.0%
  • Table salt - 0.3%
  • Premix*** - 1.0%
  • Molasses**** — 3.0%
  • Feed chalk - 1.6%

** SEED (German Schrot) — crushed seeds of oil plants after extraction of fat from them, a by-product of oil extraction production. Concentrated feed for farm animals, contains a large amount of protein.
*** PREMIXES (from the Latin prae - ahead, beforehand and misceo - I mix), mixtures of biologically active substances of microbiological and chemical synthesis, used to increase the nutritional value of compound feed and improve their biological effect on the animal organism. Premixes are vitamin, mineral, etc.
*** *MELASSA (molasses) - sugar production waste. Used in feeding farm animals.

From rodent food sold in a pet shop, you can use WAKA Lux for rabbits and chinchillas .


So, we have come to what marmots love to eat. Here is a short list:

  • Fresh apples.
  • Dried apples - peeled, slightly dried apple, cut into slices.
  • Grape slices . A slice of grapes must first be slightly kneaded so that the marmots feel its taste and smell.
  • Raisins .
  • Nuts . As noted above, groundhogs are very fond of all nuts, the most harmless of them is hazelnuts (a few nuts a day).
  • Bananas . Banana should be given peeled. It is best to give in small pieces so that the animal does not get smeared. A quarter-half a banana a day…
  • Banana chips . This type of delicacy marmots are ready to gnaw as much as they like. But to give plenty of this delicacy, I think, should not be. Stop for a few pieces.
  • Fresh cherry .

All of the foods listed above are treats and should not be used as the basis of your pet's diet.


During the heat, groundhogs begin to refuse to eat and sleep more. Feeding time is moved to later hours.

And most importantly - we must not forget about clean water, it must be given at the rate of a quarter liter per animal per day. Please note that when the groundhog gains fat accumulation, the need for water decreases.

Wet mash is the best food for groundhogs. Such a diet is easier to balance in terms of the composition of the ingredients, which can either be increased or decreased. It is convenient to introduce feed additives or medicines into the mash. Vitamins and minerals can be used as feed additives. One of the disadvantages of this method of feeding is the poor preservation of the mash, because. it quickly deteriorates, so the mash must be prepared immediately before feeding the animals.

Do you know what?

In nature, marmots feed on herbaceous plants, the set of which exceeds a hundred species. The forage specialization of marmots is not in the choice of plant species, but in the preference for parts of the plant in different seasons. In early spring, marmots eat mainly rhizomes and bulbs, in summer - young sprouts of cereals and herbs, as well as flowers containing easily digestible substances, especially proteins. Mature fruits of plants in the stomachs of marmots are not digested, so the marmot does not destroy the seeds, but sows them. Moreover, a portion of the sown seeds is in a portion of organic fertilizer, covered with a thin layer of earth. During the day, the groundhog eats up to 1-1.5 kg of plant matter. In the wild, marmots usually do not drink water, because. get it with succulent feed. Groundhogs also add eaten animals to plant food - locusts, mollusks, caterpillars, ant pupae; they are usually eaten with grass, but sometimes the mass of animal food is up to half the contents of the stomach. In captivity, marmots willingly eat meat, including the meat and fat of marmots, but in nature they do not eat their relatives and other vertebrates. During spring and summer, on highly nutritious food, the groundhog accumulates up to 800-1200 g of fat, which is up to 20-25% of the mass of the animal.

Mineral top dressing

We should not forget about such an important component of nutrition as mineral top dressing. Feed chalk can be used as a source of calcium. For example, everyone in the same Bird Market sells such chalk in "heads": the cost of one "head" is 5-10 rubles).

Please note that the formulas described above contain table salt (NaCl). The state of the muscles and the sensitivity of the nerves depend on sodium. As a source of sodium for the body of a groundhog, you can use ordinary table salt (1-2 crystals of table salt per day), but it is better to offer the rodent a mineral stone Padovan Mineralblock Rody .


Never feed the animals with salty food and do not give salt in large quantities in its pure form, because. possible poisoning.

As an option for mineral supplements, a special stone Vitakraft is available from the pet store. If we compare price and quality, then I think it's better to stay with a special fortified mineral stone Karlie , made specifically for large rodents. This stone contains many vitamins, calcium, minerals and salts, exactly as they are found in nature. The stone promotes healthy coat growth, bone development, as well as a great pastime for your pet and provides natural abrasion of teeth.

Do you know what?

If the inhabitants of the steppe - marmots - come out of their burrows in the middle of the day for extraordinary feeding, one should wait for rain. At the same time, they graze busily and in a hurry, not being distracted by extraneous matters, they feel that soon it will rain ...

Peculiarities of keeping a marmot at home: cage, food, care

More and more exotic animals are becoming pets. This article will focus on the groundhog - the largest representative of the squirrel family.

Those who have already got a groundhog at home note that it is very fun and interesting with him. After all, these funny animals are very active, quickly get used to a person and become tame. Marmots have rather agile fingers, he is able to open simple locks on the cage. When the animal is well accustomed, it can trustfully sleep in the arms or on the owner's bed. Groundhogs are able to remember their nickname and readily respond when they are called.

It is worth learning how to properly care for a groundhog and carefully weigh everything before you get a pet.

House or cage? Or maybe a mink?

The cage should be made of metal rods and quite spacious (overall dimensions from 63x47x55 cm). And the more time the pet has to stay in the cage, the larger it should be. A place for the cage must be chosen without drafts and in the shade. The optimal temperature regime is from +15 to +19 degrees, overheating of the animal should not be allowed.

Groundhogs are big fans of building their own minks, so it is necessary to provide them with "building materials" - rags and paper. It is very interesting to observe how funny the animal builds its "apartments" in the cage. In nature, adult marmots regularly go around their possessions. Therefore, the owner should provide daily walks around the apartment. Animals wake up and begin to show their activity with the sunrise.

In the bosom of nature, marmots touch each other with their noses as a sign of greeting, they also clean and comb each other's skin. If you spend a lot of time with them, then a warm, trusting relationship develops between a person and a pet. Then the behavior of the groundhog will resemble the behavior of a domestic cat, you can also play and run with it. Particularly playful juveniles, in nature they often chase each other in circles.

Do not leave your pet in the apartment alone. Curiosity pushes him to "hooliganism", he will be able to open cabinets and rummage through things there; gnaw on wooden products; delve into flower pots, and even gnaw through electrical wires, which is very unsafe for his life. Since groundhogs live in large families, they do not tolerate loneliness, therefore, left alone, the pet will entertain itself in any way. So, when leaving home, make sure that the animal is in a closed cage. And in no case do not leave him for a long time alone.

Hygiene features

Groundhogs are big cleaners. Under natural conditions, they build a separate mink as a toilet, so their "apartment" is always clean and tidy. The domestic animal will be docile and clean and will go to a certain place. You just need to follow the groundhog and then put the tray in the place that he chooses for the toilet. Of course, patience will be required, everything will not work out right away, but time will pass and the animal will learn to go to the tray in the allotted place. You can use not only special fillers for the tray, but also pressed sawdust. Marmots do not like to swim, as they are very afraid of water. In case of contamination, it can be wiped with a damp cloth.


The diet of marmots mainly consists of plant foods (vegetables, fruits and nuts), they especially like fresh greens. You can feed them rodent food and bread. Milk and products containing animal fats are contraindicated. It is necessary to change or add water to the drinking bowl daily. Feeding the animal should only be in a cage, accustom it to this from the very first day. In their natural environment, the animals feed in the early morning and evening, in between meals they rest. Therefore, it is enough to feed the pet 2 times a day, then the bowls must be removed, leaving only water in the cage.

By the end of summer, marmots become quite well-fed, they accumulate up to 800-1200 g of fat, they increasingly stay in minks, settling in them for the winter. The physiological need for hibernation will also manifest itself at home. Groundhogs sleep for 5-6 months. They begin to fall asleep when the air temperature is about three degrees Celsius. About 2 weeks before hibernation, the groundhog's appetite worsens, and activity subsides. Cover the cage with a dark cloth so that the groundhog can prepare for hibernation, only then it can be transplanted into the preparation box. At first, the groundhog may come out to relieve himself or eat a little. You need to watch him, if within 2-3 days he does not leave the cage, then he can already be moved to a place for wintering.

In advance, you should think about an unheated and protected from the wind place (this can be a balcony or a country house). It is necessary to ensure that the air temperature does not fall below three degrees Celsius. Prepare a wooden box, covered with a metal mesh on the outside, the size of the box is 60x60x60 cm, it must be filled with shavings, sawdust and hay. This animal is so created that it hibernates for the winter. Therefore, in order not to bring harm to his pet, his owner must create conditions for hibernation, as well as provide good nutrition, because in order for the groundhog to fall asleep, he must gain the necessary amount of fat.


During winter sleep, marmots do not eat and practically do not move, but their vital activity continues due to the accumulated fat reserves.

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