Can Groundhogs Swim?

You already know that groundhogs climb trees, right? If you didn’t know that, now you do, they can climb trees. But can they swim? I believe that every animal has the ability to swim. Cats don’t like to swim, but if you throw one, or should I say, if one falls into the water, you will most certainly see a cat swim. The question then, should be, do they want to, do they like to, or do they voluntarily swim?

As far as groundhogs are concerned, I can’t say whether or not they like to swim but something had to motivate the one that I saw halfway up a small willow tree in the Wetlands last week. The groundhog had to swim to get to the tree, there’s no way around it. And, it doesn’t seem likely that it got there by accident.

This is the tree in which I spotted the groundhog (same tree that now has a green heron nest).
Climbing down out of the tree.

When I first saw the g’hog it was climbing down out of the willow, I didn’t see its arrival, only its departure from the tree. It was a young groundhog, no doubt this year’s offspring of one of our residents.

As I watched the young g’hog climb down and move towards shore, it made every effort to stay dry. It only jumped into the water when it seemed a dry route was no longer available.

I watched the intrepid rodent until it made its way safely onto shore and scurry off into the woods.

Looking for the driest route.
Whoops, starting to get a little wet here.
Time to take the plunge.
At the edge of the water with whiskers full of mud and algae, the groundhog checks me out to make sure I’m “safe.”
After a minute or two of sniffing and staring, its off into the woods.

What was this little groundhog after in the willow tree? There was nothing that I could see for a ground hog to eat in the willows of the Wetlands, no fruit or nuts, and the seeds had already dispersed in the wind. Was this little guy simply exploring? Did the groundhog have a toothache (look that one up) and was searching for willow branches to gnaw on? Who knows what was in the mind of this young wood chuck as it made its way out into the water of the Wetlands and back again, but I’m glad I had the chance to witness at least part of its journey.

9 responses to Can Groundhogs Swim?

  1. Karen says:

    I was out walking my dog this evening & she saw a young groundhog I’ve seen before – she’s a small dog so no threat – it walked down towards our little lake & swam away. Amazing!

  2. Ranger Ro says:

    Its muddy whiskers are the cutest thing ever. Great photos Ranger Greg!

  3. Katy says:

    Look how long his tail his!!! Wish Henry had a tail that long!!!

    • Greg Dodge says:

      You spend enough time in one place, you’re likely to see all sorts of interesting behavior.

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