No groundhogs hibernated in the barn over the 2019-2020 winter. Our first sighting was on February 24th, and was captured on trail camera photos. We subsequently identified a male and named him Toby. The next chuck identified was a female we named Earin who had a deformed ear, followed by a yearling female we named Ash.
It appeared that Earin was mate to Toby but sightings of her ceased entirely at the end of March. Ash remained and took over the barn burrow and other established burrows—under the decks, shed, and Burrow #5. Toby continue his visits throughout March and until he was last sighted on April 28th.
On May 3rd, we began seeing another male, Andy. He, too, was documented in the barn and shown in the burrow hole. Andy was identifiable by wounds to the right and left sides of his face. Though now past the mating season of March-April, Andy and Ash appeared to be a couple with behavior similar to what we’ve seen in other groundhog pairs. They were seen in different areas of the yard simultaneously as well as together. But then sightings of Andy ceased as of May 23rd.
On May 28th a new male arrived! Named Stubby for his shortened tail, he was seen regularly. Again, we thought Ash and Stubby were a couple exhibiting behavior consistent with that of other groundhog pairs we’ve observed.
Then, surprisingly, on June 14th another male arrived! Though we continued to see Stubby periodically, it appeared the new male we named Johnny was Ash’s new love interest. We continued to see Johnny throughout the remainder of June, through July, and into August when sightings of him ceased. In mid August, Ash worked over a period of 3 days doing leaf gathering for the barn burrow. Our last sighting of her was August 31st. Our last sighting of any groundhogs was Stubby in our barn on September 25th seen in photos from the trail cameras.
In addition to the named groundhogs mentioned, a juvenile groundhog arrived on July 20h. We named this young one Junior. We’ve no idea who Junior’s parents were or the reason for this little one’s arrival. August 6th Junior and Johnny were seen together in the photos from the barn trail camera.
Now we wait to see what happens in 2021! UPDATE: This story continued in 2021 and was so amazing we published a new book, A Most Unusual Groundhog Story. See the new Shop page.