An Interesting Visitor

A week or so ago, Linda called me regarding a creature that was staring into our great room patio doors.  The odd thing is she was unable to tell me exactly what it was other than it was big, furry and the dogs were quite upset about it violating their space.  Short of a large rat, I still was not sure what it could be. One idea came to mind – “did it look like an otter and have a long skinny tale?”, I asked.  That resulted in a negative response which ruled out my arch nemesis the muskrat.  Luckily, she managed to take some  pictures.

It definitely was not a muskrat.  Turns out it was a groundhog.  Oddly enough, this is probably the first groundhog we have seen on our property since we acquired it.  We have had our share of squirrels, snakes, ground squirrels (or chipmunks), plenty of deer and that damn muskrat, but not one of these oversized rodents.

Apparently they are pretty nimble seeing as how it managed to balance itself on a single 4 inch board on our deck.  By this time the boys were in full bark so it was probably figuring out what its escape plan was.  Guessing it was more afraid of the large human yelling at it and taking pictures through the glass doors.

Finally a shot that showed its bushy tail confirming that it wasn’t the devil spawn muskrat (yes, I harbor deep hatred).  Not only is it nimble, it apparently does not have any bones in that fur.  That railing is only about 5 inches off the deck and it managed to squeeze its whole body under it.  To be honest, it looks kind of cute with its perky ears and plush fur.  Cute or not, it still needs to find another place to roam – their holes tend to be fairly large and destructive.  We had one living under a shed at our old house and it managed to dig a huge ditch all the way around the skids it sat on.  I had to put up a screen all the way around the shed to keep it out.

Hit the jump for a few more shots

Eventually it went for the safety of our deck furniture.

About now is when Linda noticed the claws on this groundhog.  Although my little poodles may bark a tough game, I am thinking this one would put up a tremendous fight if the dogs were able to make it out the door.  It is quite possible it knows this which resulted in the defiant look it gave Linda in this picture.  It did do us a service and clean out some cobwebs while rummaging under our railing. I should point out that we are not exactly sure how it came to be on our back porch.  We have a wraparound porch with a walkout basement on the back where these pictures were taken.  So it either came onto the porch in the front and decided to simply take a stroll along to the side in order to get to the back our possibly navigated the two tier steps at the far end.  In either scenario, the groundhog must have been curious about something or was just looking to take a nap on our comfy deck furniture – the cats must have put the word out on the street we don’t tend to be aggressive towards the local wildlife.  My apologies to the small snake I cut up in the lawn mower while doing the front yard yesterday which would have been fine if my wife had not found it before I did.

I’ll leave you with the last shot Linda took.  Based on the blurry composition, my guess it was getting a little too close for Linda’s comfort.

I had to chuckle when I saw this one.  It looks like it put on some boxing gloves and was preparing to take on those pansy poodles.  Put ’em up put ’em up (in your best Wizard of Oz Lion imitation).  Eventually it wandered off.  Where to I have no idea.  On the curious front, I did notice a large hole had been dug on the far side of our driveway.  On closer inspection, something had dug out a huge bee nest and had a nice dinner of sweet honey.  Last year I found another hole on our property where something had dug up a bee nest and left some of the combs strewn about.  Some animal is apparently fearless of the bee stings and willing to work pretty hard to get to the treasure (both holes were at least 12 inches wide and 18 inches deep).  Does anyone know if groundhogs do this? … or know what kind of animal would?

Oh, and if you want to see larger pictures be sure and hit the link to hop on over to our smugmug site:

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