Sunday, October 11, 2009

What About Chuck?

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?


Anonymous said...

Look at it from the bright side if he wasnt there no photo plus you go out an see him every day. How nice it is, think about coming back to town. Im in town an havent seen a woodchuck in years. Hope you have a good day keep warm.
Bye Bye Ed

Char said...

Man, what are you feeding him? He is a chunky little fellow. Please let him live out his last year without harrassment. *sob*

Bhavesh Chhatbar said...

I wish so!

Thoseghar Waterfall

Crafty Green Poet said...

He's a handsome fellow, we don't have them over here so i don't know how annoyign they can get but i'd try to live with him for another season...

Stine in Ontario said...

He looks like a cool critter to me. I'm surprised they only live two years on average. Chuck may live quite a while longer since he has such great living arrangements. ;-)

dsmcaron said...

I already love Chuck! Let him stay!

Rambling Woods said...

Let me ask my rehabber friend about wood chucks. I know many people would shoot or poison. Thank you for not relocating him now as he probably wouldn't survive..Let me see what she has to say about them... Michelle

Arija said...

I love your woodchuck and could happily co-exist with one, especially one who welcomed me to my new home.

Squirrel said...

Loved you account of the woodchuck. I don't often see them alive, most are dead along the side of the roads. I'm sure you will have fun watching him.

MyMaracas said...

Ed, you have a point there. He is good for photo ops.

Char, since they spend winter in true hibernation, they pack on a lot of fat this time of year to see them through. And we've stopped harassing him. In fact, I left him some green beans by his burrow last week.

Bhavesh, I hope it works out too.

Poet, they can completely mow down a garden in a day. They also chew on rubber hoses of farm equipment. It's legal to shoot them on sight here in Indiana.

MyMaracas said...

Stine, I hadn't thought about that. I wonder how long he could live here in groundhog heaven... ugh.

Dsmcaron, He is pretty cute, isn't he? You want him, I'll ship him to ya.

Michelle, I would appreciate that. I'm really torn about what to do about him.

Arija, I'm leaning that way, too.

Squirrel, We do enjoy peeking at each other from around hedge corners and the barn door. He seems curious about us, and mostly unafraid. It's kinda cool.

Rambling Woods said...

Vicki..I called my rehabber friend and this is what she said. They aren't aggressive and if it appears that it is, then you should call animal control. She said not to do anything now for the reasons you sighted. But next season, you can make it very unpleasant for him by getting a spotlight to sign into his den and a radio with nasty music of some kind. Oh...and check prior to make sure it isn't a female with babies. Trapping them usually has bad outcome, it is better if they leave on their own she said. If you have any more questions, I could put you in e-mail contact with her... Michelle

MyMaracas said...

Michelle, thanks for checking on that for me! Light and noise, eh? Sounds like a plan. If we need to run him off, we'll try that. And yes, I would like to be introduced to your rehabber friend. I have a feeling Chuck won't be the only troublesome "neighbor" out here.

Gel said...

Oh Me oh my, I have found a blog soulmate! I not only name our backyard squirrels (and their relatives, too) I also dubbed a bedroom in our house Peptobismal pink! (It was that color before we moved in. I have never come across anyone else who has said that.) I have bookmarked you.
Delightful post.

Kathy said...

I'd try to co-exist for another season. After all, he is kind of cute in a creatur-y sort of way!