Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What Animal Did This?

At first sight, the thought was coyote, as last year in the park there were quite a few fawn taken and spread throughout the park in odd places which is typical of coyote. Tim Pratt had seen coyote footprints as well. However, upon closer inspection and me daringly putting my arm down the holes, we all agree they are from ground hogs. There are many of these holes throughout the wildflower meadow and usually in pairs.

Groundhogs have several entrances to their tunnels.

here is an excert from: http://www.doorcountycompass.com

--Truth is groundhogs (aka woodchucks) possess some pretty good credentials in the industry and engineering fields. But, they are underground agents, and out of sight is out of respect.

Please don't let it be a big animal!!

Any human engineer can tell you that excavation, especially tunneling, is exacting work with a whole array of unique problems. Did you ever wonder about that hole out of which the groundhog is supposed to pop?

The first engineering problem the groundhog must face is drainage. The animal instinctively selects the slope of a hill for an entrance. The tunnel angles sharply downward for thee or four feet. Then the passage slants upward. Finally, it levels off for the first 15 to 20 feet to the main chamber. This procedure - digging down, then up before digging the main tunnel, prevents most flooding situation.

There's no light at the end of the tunnel, but there are two separate rooms - one is for sleep and the other serves as a privy. What would you call that? An underhouse? Scientists call it the excrement room. The underground complex often includes side tunnels and a secret entrance,a "plunge hole," for emergency escape.

In cartoons, animals often dig with such vigor, that dirt shoots out behind them. That's taken from groundhogs in real life. Groundhogs are living digging machines. If roots get in the way, they have those rodent teeth with which to gnaw. Stones (in Door County?) will be dislodged and rolled out the entrances. Before a ground hog goes into dormancy, he seals himself into his chamber with dirt, which is just as well. Other critters such as snakes and raccoons often sleep through the winter in groundhog tunnels.

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