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Wild Animals/animal identification


I live in a suburb of Baltimore with woods and a stream behind my house. We have lots of wildlife here. In October, I noticed the first groundhogs I have seen since moving here 14 years ago. There were two, seemingly young ones, playing in the yard near their burrow. A few days ago (early December) on a warm day I saw an animal in the woods. It had all the appearances of a groundhog, though looked larger than the ones I had seen in my yard. But it had two dark brown stripes along its back, one on the left and one on the right. I didn't notice its tail and it was going away from me so I couldn't see its head. It was low to the ground, fat, and grey/brown like the two groundhogs I had seen earlier. Is there such a color variant in groundhogs or what is this? I haven't seen it since, but its been cold here. I didn't get a photo.

Dear Mary,

I don't know of any striped color variants of groundhogs.  Are you sure it was a rodent or groundhog?  The only thing I can think of is perhaps a badger?

It's kind of impossible for me to guess without a photo in this case.  Sorry!


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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I'm an evolutionary biologist with a passion for animals. Ask about natural history, behavior, ecology, evolution. PLEASE NOTE:

If you have found an "orphaned" or injured wild animal or bird:
Please don't waste time asking questions on the internet, as the answers may come too late. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL, and DO NOT HANDLE IT unless it is in imminent danger. (Many wild "orphans" are not orphans at all!) If you are absolutely sure it is orphaned, keep it warm and quiet, and find a LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR HERE. Don't try to raise a baby yourself, or rehabilitate an injured anmal. Many a well-intentioned rescuer will do more harm than good, especially with baby birds and baby rabbits.

Without geographic location, time of day and habitat, I can't help. A clear picture is always best.

It's impossible for me to I.D. an animal call without hearing it myself.

I'm not an expert on comparative strengths of different animals (more complicated than you might think!) nor bite forces.

I refuse to answer "Which of these two animals--X or X--would win in a fight?".

These hypothetical matchups range from impossible (Grizzly Bears and Gorillas don't even occupy the same continent.) to ridiculous (Someone asked me "Who would win a fight between a Great White Shark and a tiger?").

The vast majority of animals--even the fierce and powerful--are not as warlike as Homo sapiens, and it's childish to project our aggressiveness onto them.


I have been the fortunate caregiver to a group of Black-tailed Jackrabbits rescued from the Miami International Airport, and not releasable in this area because they are not native. I also have rehabbed and released Eastern Cottontails, and am in contact with many very experienced wildlife rescuers who regularly handle injured or orphaned rabbits and hares.

House Rabbit Society

Exotic DVM journal

I have a Ph.D. in Biology, with main areas of expertise in evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, and ecology.

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