Groundhogs have lived with us here for years. There is nothing all that unusual about that, as many people see groundhogs here and there. But for some reason our hot tub deck is especially popular with them. Raccoons like the hot tub deck too, and usually occupy the area under it all winter. But this spring a female groundhog was somehow able to call dibs on it and made it the site of her den.
I was in my studio working this afternoon and heard funny squeaking sounds just outside my windows. I looked out just in time to see two baby groundhogs playing a game of “Ring Around the Rosie” on top of our hot tub cover. They were soaking wet from being in their little hole under the deck. Heavy rains have soaked everything here. The wet babies looked more like baby porcupines than groundhogs! But the water didn’t seem to bother them at all.
Mother groundhog is quite patient as her babies crawl all over her. Oh, the joys of motherhood!
In short order the babies dried off. They seemed to almost double in size as their tiny bodies puffed up in fluff.
There are five babies in this litter. At first they stayed very close to mom.
Flowers in the garden provide a wonderful place to play. It took a day or two for the babies to learn to balance themselves in the classic upright groundhog position. They looked like fat, fuzzy little bowling pins toppling over. This one below has finally got it!
This baby poses for his close-up. Baby groundhogs are very inquisitive and active.
The photo below shows the runt of the litter on the right with his sibling on the left. Four of the five babies are the larger size. But size is relative. Baby groundhogs are small. This gives an idea of how tiny the runt is. He is about the size of my clenched fist.
Below, the tiny runt is behind not only in size but also in development. He seems much younger than the others. He also wins the grand prize for cuteness!
Here is a bigger sibling in the same pose. It is easy to see how different these two are at this stage.
The tiny one is less active than his bigger brothers and sisters. He doesn’t have enough coordination to run very fast yet.
Have you ever seen anything so adorable?
The babies play and explore but every now and then check back in with each other. The larger ones are very good to their tiny brother.
Two bigger siblings touch noses. They do this often when they come together into the same space. There is no apparent competition between them and they seem to really enjoy each other.
This little guy ran right up to the window where I was photographing them.
Mother groundhog gathered up more leaves to freshen up the den.
The photo below required a very fast shutter finger and a whole lot of luck. The tiny runt baby poses with his big brother. This pose lasted for all of a millisecond before they scampered all around again.
Below the tiny one seems to be having a conversation with his bigger brother. I wonder what they were saying…
A dedicated mom relaxes nearby.