Can You Own a Pet Groundhog? Is It Legal?

Do Groundhogs make as good pets for domesticating? Well, Groundhogs have been part of domestication for a long time now, but whether they are good or bad is a matter of long discussion.

While most people consider Groundhogs as cute and cuddly pets, others claim them as ‘Destroyers.’ Let’s shed some more light on it.

Getting a Pet Groundhog: What You Need to Know

Groundhog is a rodent of the family Sciuridae. Also known as the giant North American ground squirrel, it belongs to a group of large ground squirrels called Marmots.

Being a lowland animal, it is exceptional amongst Marmots and plays an important role in maintaining healthy soil in plan and woodland areas.

Groundhogs are native to North America and are commonly found in parts of Canada, Alaska, and much of the Eastern United States. The body stretches about 20 inches, whereas their bushy tails stretch up to 7 inches.

Groundhogs are usually brown in color, but some of their subspecies happen to appear Melanistic (nearly black). These stout-bodied rodents weigh no more than 13 pounds.

However, when in Captivity, they might grow overweight and touch the number around 17 to 20 pounds as well.

The Origins of Groundhog

According to spiritual and religious beliefs, Groundhogs have been immortal and been a part of life forever.

However, much about their existence and influence on both human and animal life is not known.

Can You Own a Pet Groundhog

Groundhog Species Taxonomy Chart

NameGroundhog
Other NamesChuck, Wood-shock, Groundpig, Whistlepig, Whistler, Thickwood badger, Canada marmot, Monax, Moonack, Weenusk, Red monk, Woodchuck, Land beaver, Large Ground Squirrel
Scientific NamesMarmota monax
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderRodentia
FamilySciuridae
GenusMarmota
SpeciesM. monax
SizeLength: 28 inches (Adult)  
Mass: 13 lbs (Adult)  
Life SpanUp to 6 years in Wild
10 years in Captivity

Do Groundhogs Make Good Pets?

Groundhogs are wild rodents and types of non-domesticated animals. They have upper and lower incisors that grow a sixteenth of an inch each week. With that, the main hobby of Groundhogs is biting through anything that comes into their path.

Their destructive behavior will eventually destroy millions of gardens, flower beds, and vegetation every year. Some Groundhogs will even find a way out of a cage and will escape eventually.

Keeping all of these circumstances in mind, Groundhogs do not make as good pets. Having them in your domestic space can prove highly tiring and destructive.

Is it legal to keep Groundhog as a pet?

Keeping a Groundhog as a pet isn’t as easy as domesticating a dog or cat. Not all countries and states allow keeping these rodents as pets. And even if a region does, there goes a long licensing procedure for bringing groundhogs home.

Also, groundhogs are rodents closely related to squirrels and therefore are subject to state laws regarding wild rodents.

Are Groundhogs legal in the USA?

Groundhogs are native to the USA, and thus, one needs a license or permit. For example, in Georgia, one can apply for possessing Groundhog, but not for domesticating purposes. Whereas in California, possessing Groundhogs and many other rodents is strictly banned.

In addition, laws in Pennsylvania state that unless you have a handle on groundhogs raised in Captivity, you can’t possess them. The activity is against the law, and the responsible individual will be liable to pay a hefty fine.

Whereas in Virginia, if a Groundhog invades someone’s personal property, the owner has the right to kill the animal without any permit.

Currently, there are no federal laws for protecting Groundhogs. This means each state can more or less define how individuals interact with Groundhogs in Captivity and wild.

Can you have Groundhogs as pets?

Legally, your State or County may allow keeping Groundhogs as pets; however, having them is not always the best idea.

Before bringing home a pet Groundhog, remember that they are extremely challenging. Some of the challenges that may come along your way include,

  • Though Groundhogs are lovely creatures, they will destroy your garden. They will on everything that comes their way, living not even soil beds behind.
  • Meal preparation for Groundhogs takes a lot of time and effort.
  • Housing Groundhogs and taking care of them requires a lot of time, effort, and finances.
  • It is often difficult to find a Vet that is educated and experienced enough to treat exotic animals like Rodents. A regular Vet won’t get ready to treat your rodent.
  • Groundhogs are one of the largest rodents in America that Hibernate. This means nearly 3 to 4 months a year; you won’t see your pet Groundhog doing any activity around.
  • Groundhogs and dogs are enemies, and thus you can’t keep both of them together as pets.

If all the above considerations are in your favor, you can definitely keep a Groundhog as a pet. However, if even some of them aren’t in your favor, it is better to drop the idea.

Groundhogs as Pets- You have to meet their needs

Groundhogs Housing Needs

They are the largest member of the squirrel family. You cannot keep them confined inside a small cage, though an 8 by 8 feet enclosure will do the job. However, it is always better to allow Groundhogs to stay in your backyard or any other soiled space outdoors.

Make sure the space is well enclosed with mesh wire dug at least 3 feet into the ground.

Fill the enclosure with some branches, domestic plants, and a few natural things to nibble on. Make sure you fill it with some drinking water as well as a small pond for them to enjoy.

Besides that, remember Groundhogs hibernate, and they will do so in Captivity as well. Thus, provide them some dark, quiet, and cold space, especially from October to March.

Groundhogs’ Temperature and Humidity Needs

Groundhogs do absolutely fine with typical human-comfort range temperatures and humidity. They do fine on a cement floor; however, the soil does better for them.

Groundhogs Dietary Needs

Groundhogs are voracious eaters, and they are always found nibbling on something. They are primarily herbivorous; however, they occasionally may turn insectivorous as well.

Feed food items like black cherry, hackberry leaves, lettuce, alfalfa, clovers, dandelions, daisies, and red mulberry to your pet Groundhog.

You can also add fruits and vegetation like apples, cherries, celery, corn, peas, berries, and beans. Occasionally do offer grubs, snails, and other common insects as well.

Groundhogs Cleaning

Like other wild animals, Groundhogs do not require regular cleaning and grooming. However, providing them with a litter box is ideal to release their daily waste. Since they are easy to litter train, this responsibility will come easy on your way.

Common Health Problems with Groundhogs

Some of the common health problems Groundhogs carry or may suffer from include:

Fleas and ticks, Lyme and Powassan, Rabbies, and Tooth and gum problems (due to constant urge to chew on almost anything).

How Much Does a Groundhog Cost?

A Groundhog (if available for sale) may cost anywhere between $200 to $400.

Where to buy a Groundhog? Where To Find a Groundhog Breeder?

It is really difficult to find a Groundhog on sale. Since keeping this rodent is illegal in most parts of the United States, you will rarely find any breeder selling them.

Some of them do sell pets like Groundhogs illegally; however, involving in any process with them will prove illegal for the buyer as well.

The only way a lot of individuals get their pet Groundhog is by stealing one from the wild. However, that is unethical and inhuman, and we do not recommend doing the same.

Or, if you live in parts of Canada, Alaska, and the eastern U.S., there are high chances for a Groundhog to visit your backyard someday. If that happens, you can either get them removed professionally or keep them and nurture them as pets.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to befriend a Groundhog? Are they friendly with humans?

Groundhogs are usually less interactive with humans. However, you can easily try befriending them over a bowl of food.

Will a groundhog fight a dog?

Groundhogs and dogs aren’t the friendliest pets to have together. Having them along means inviting daily fights which might turn destructive and injure both parties.

Will a Groundhog attack a Cat? Are cats afraid of Groundhogs?

Groundhogs probably won’t attack cats, unlike they would most possibly do with dogs. However, cats, on the other hand, are quite threatened by Groundhogs even being around them.

Can Groundhogs Climb?

Yes, as much as they love digging underground, Groundhogs can also climb trees.

Do all groundhogs hibernate?

Yes, Groundhogs hibernate, and all of them go into this state from late falls for roughly three months. Not just in the Wild, but Groundhogs hibernate even when they are in Captivity.

Wrapping up…

Can you keep Groundhogs as pets? Well, only if you have prior experience with many other wild animals, then give it a thought to bring home a pet Groundhog.

Besides whether it is legal or if you can afford to keep an exotic pet, your experience, knowledge, efforts, and willingness make you the right individual to keep pets like Groundhogs.

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