Jeff Permar of Delaware is an avid gardener with an extensive vegetable crop.
Well, at least he used to have an extensive crop until something started eating its way through his garden. And try as he might to find the culprit—and if not find it, at least stop its devastation—he was unsuccessful.
In an interview with ABC Life Matters, he says,
“I was really upset because I didn’t know what was eating out of the garden. I thought it was a deer, or it could have been a rabbit.”
Finally, Jeff got decided to go high-tech and set up motion-detection cameras in the hop of at least identifying what was eating its way through his vegetable patch.
Before long he got a notification on his phone, and when he checked, he found the culprit. And it wasn’t a deer or a rabbit.
The culprit was a groundhog.
Permar reports that it was,
“…just staring at the camera. He was kind of saying, ‘Yeah, I’m eating your vegetables, what are you going to do about it?’ He was just so cool about it.”
Most farmers consider groundhogs to be pests since they are destructive. The burrows they dig can also wreck expensive equipment. And as for their diet, Havahart says this:
“Groundhogs eat approximately 1/3 of their weight in vegetation each day. Although they are considered herbivores, they sometimes eat insects (less than 1% of the time). In the summer and fall groundhogs increase their consumption to accumulate fat reserves, which they use to survive through their winter hibernation period.
Some favorite foods include fruits, vegetables, flowers, bark, clover.”
Can you imagine eating 1/3 of your weight every day?
This explains why Permar was so perturbed. He was losing a lot of his crop, and it was completely indiscriminate. Often times the groundhog would take a bite or two out of one piece of fruit, leave it on the ground, and do the same with another fruit or vegetable. It wasn’t like it was eating an entire fruit or vegetable.
And here’s a fun fact I discovered while watching the video above of it eating a peach, it burps. Quite impressively!
Permar tries to curtail the groundhog.
He does everything he can to protect his garden from this bold invader, but nothing worked. He built a higher fence, he put logs around the fence to prevent it from burrowing under, but his efforts were wasted.
The groundhog would invade the garden about 3 times a day. Other animals would come and go, but not the groundhog.
“He always parked in the same spot and always just stared right at the camera. We don’t know if he just loves his reflection or what.”
But after a week or so of this, things began to change for Permar.
It wasn’t long before he went from being frustrated with this animal to something else entirely. He admits,
“It actually became a little bit like I was looking forward [to seeing him.] He was really cool, just the way he was going about every day and just seeing his character. It only took about a week or so for him to win my heart over.”
Permar decided is resident groundhog was “awesome” and from then on just let it do what he wanted. He even gave it the name Chunk, since it loved to take a single chunk out of whatever it was eating and leave the rest.
Then things change.
One day while at work, Permar gets a notification of motion on his phone and checks it out, not expecting what he was about to see.
Suddenly, one had become two.
Groundhog number two was christened Nibbles.
Toward the end of the season, sometime in October when the garden was pretty much dead for the year, they were busy fattening up for the winter. And Permar, like a good dad, was throwing fruit and vegetable out onto the lawn for them.
And then in early November, they headed to their home under the shed and hibernation. And they were missed.
But Permar decided over the winter that he was going to build Chunk his own garden the next spring. He said,
“We coexist. This is his land too.”
And it’s a good thing Permar made that decision. Because late spring, well after Chunk emerged, eventually Nibbles did… and then their babies.
You can follow Chunk and his family on Instagram.
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