Is it normal to have a pet woodchuck?
This one is ours. My husband calls him Woodie, I call him Chuck. Whatever the name, he poses an ongoing dilemma.
This place had been empty for almost a year when we bought it, and Chuck was already here when we moved in. He is comfortably ensconced in a burrow under the concrete slab of the pole barn. The main entry is right next to the barn door, and the escape exit is in the dirt-floor stable behind the pole barn.
We figured this was Not Good, in a vague sort of way, but any damage to the slab was already done. Besides, we had bigger fish to fry - radon to vent; a septic tank to pump; a fireplace to repair; banana-yellow and Pepto-pink bedrooms to paint. By spring, we were focused on the corn fort and on transforming the barn into a woodworking shop. Chuck remained low on the priority list.
There was some talk among the male members of the family about shooting Chuck. Not gonna happen. However, having to pass by a giant, overly bold rodent on the way in and out of the barn was unnerving. He peered at us from his den as we came and went, staring us down. Something had to be done.
Plan A was scaring him off. This involved me running into the yard whenever I saw him, flapping a dish towel and yelling like a lunatic. At first he ran in a gratifying panic -- straight into his burrow. OR, straight past me and under the deck. Eventually he just looked at me and kept eating grass. It was dinner and a show.
Plan B was Making Life Miserable for Chuck, in hopes that he would pack up and go. We rolled mothballs down the den and dusted the entry with red pepper. If it bothered him, he didn't let on. We filled in his holes. He dug them out again.
Plan C is live-trapping. Woodchucks hibernate through the winter, so removing him from his den now would just be mean. Once February rolls around, though, Chuck may be headed for a new neighborhood.
But then again, maybe not. We've actually come to enjoy Chuck's company. And for a while, there was a Mrs. Chuck and a Chuck Junior. They reminded me of the Beavers in Narnia.
The corn fort fence has effectively kept him out of the garden. I don't have flower beds, so that hasn't been a problem -- although, you'll notice in the photo that he has been snacking on my chrysanthemums. And it's kind of fun to have a wild creature that seems content to share his space with us.
Then too, the websites I've checked say groundhogs live only two years, on average. Chuck may be nearing his expiration date anyway. Maybe we can co-exist for another season?
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