A wild groundhog caused a massive backup on Maryland’s Route 26 in Eldersburg on Sunday. A bystander caught the horrific moment on video as the police officer grew impatient while waiting for the Groundhog to cross the road. Apparently it didn’t cross fast enough so he took him out.
VIDEO AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE:
The groundhog (Marmota monax), also known as a woodchuck, is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. It was first scientifically described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. The groundhog is also referred to as a chuck, wood-shock, groundpig, whistlepig, whistler, thickwood badger, Canada marmot, monax, moonack, weenusk, red monk and, among French Canadians in eastern Canada, siffleur.
The name “thickwood badger” was given in the Northwest to distinguish the animal from the prairie badger. Monax was a Native American name of the woodchuck, which meant “the digger”. Young groundhogs may be called chucklings.:66 Other marmots, such as the yellow-bellied and hoary marmots, live in rocky and mountainous areas, but the groundhog is a lowland creature. It is found through much of the eastern United States across Canada and into Alaska. The groundhog is the largest sciurid in its geographical range.
Adults are 16 to 20 inches long, including a six inch tail. A large woodchuck thought to weigh twenty pounds when carried was exactly half that weight when weighed by scale. Woodchuck weight ranges from five to twelve pounds. Extremely large individuals may weigh up to 15 pounds. Seasonal weight changes indicate circannual deposition and use of fat. Progressive higher weights are attained each year for the first 2–3 years after which weights plateau.
Groundhogs have four incisor teeth which grow 1/16″ per week. Constant usage wears them down again by about that much each week. Unlike the incisors of 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 spine is curved, more like that of a mole, and the tail is comparably shorter as well — only about one-fourth of body length.
Suited to their temperate habitat, groundhogs are covered with two coats of fur: a dense grey undercoat and a longer coat of banded guard hairs that gives the groundhog its distinctive “frosted” appearance. In the wild, groundhogs can live up to six years with two or three being average. In captivity, groundhogs reportedly live up to 14 years. Humans, dogs, coyotes, and foxes are about the only predators that can kill adult groundhogs although young may also be taken by owls and hawks.
The red fox is the major predator of Marmota monax. Occasionally woodchucks may suffer from parasitism and a woodchuck may die from infestation or from bacteria transmitted by vectors. In areas of intensive agriculture and dairying regions of the state of Wisconsin, particularly the southern parts, the woodchuck by 1950 had been almost extirpated.:124 Jackson (1961) suggested the amount of damage done by the woodchuck had been exaggerated and that excessive persecution by people substantially reduced its numbers in Wisconsin. In some areas marmots are important game animals and are killed regularly for sport, food, or fur.