Groundhogs are to UConn as pigeons are to New York. They’re everywhere, whether you realize or not.
On Sunday night, I posted in the Buy or Sell UConn tickets Facebook group asking for students’ experiences spotting groundhogs around campus. I got dozens of responses, and a few adorable photos and videos as a bonus. According to my findings, there are five groundhog packs on campus. In this piece, I’ll break them down based on the information I gathered from my fellow UConn colleagues and my own personal sightings.
The largest of all five main packs reside in and around Hilltop Apartments, where I currently reside. “But wait!” you shout. “Isn’t that selection bias?” At first I suspected that may be the case, as the obscene amount of groundhogs I see on my day-to-day treks through Hilltop were the primary reason I decided to take on this pressing issue. However, as the Buy-or-Sell comments came rolling in, I realized it was not a fluke.
“One lives under Grasso; his hole overlooks the parking lot,” shares commenter T.J. DelConte. “He’s often just being a badass overlooking his kingdom sunning himself.”
Hilltop seems to be home to several groundhogs, scattered throughout the many buildings. “There’s a THICC boy that lives near Crandall,” said Andrew Annabi. If you’re at Hilltop like I am and are getting tired of the brown furballs (first off, why?), they’re here to stay.
“A family lived outside of Merritt last year,” shared Ava Leigh. “If you’ve never seen three baby groundhogs running around you’ve never lived.”
From a positional perspective, they hold the high ground over the main part of campus, allowing them defensive measures from lower-based packs. With natural fortification from the rest of campus provided by Alumni Drive, the Hilltop groundhogs look to grow in numbers as the new decade approaches.
The hedgehogs around Garrigus Suites and Werth Tower are technicians, creating travel systems below the surface. During my semester at Garrigus last year, I saw a trio of furry friends hanging out in the valley below the Garrigus entrance every other day or so. Compared to the relatively unafraid Hilltop variety, the Garrigus groundhogs are more skittish, and often disappear into their underground tunnels.
“Large density in Garrigus,” corroborated Alex Mateev. “Extensive burrow[ing] underneath the building.” This burrowing system is all but confirmed, as last year I saw the same groundhog on both sides of the Garrigus building within around a three minute span. With a relatively high position over the rest of campus and tight-knit quarters, the Garrigus/Werth gang are one of the more impressive groupings in Storrs.
“The Kings in the North” reside in the Northwest quadrangle part of campus, whose presence was a surprise for me. I had only seen one groundhog in that general area, between North and Northwest, but its solitary status made me attribute it to getting lost on its way back from Ted’s. Besides, if I was a microwave sized rodent, I wouldn’t necessarily want to bunker down in a tight-knit, dense dormitory environment. But no, Northwest seems to have a small pack residing there.
“There’s a few in northwest in the corner by Goodyear/Batterson,” commented Zoe Schaefer.
I don’t remember seeing any groundhogs in my entire year at North, which makes sense considering its menacing trap-like interior, devoid of any nature that might beckon fauna to hole up. That said, look for the Northwest groundhogs to strengthen their presence, distanced from the other four major packs.
The only pack not defined by a living quarter, the Center Campus groundhogs are the Manhattanites of the groundhog ecosystem, preferring the hustle and bustle of Fairfield Way to the relaxed nature of the fringes of campus. And hustle they do!
“Saw them all summer run from the crater in the ground by Oak, across the walkway, to underneath a rock by Hawley Armory,” said Fabio Saccomanno. “Not really afraid of people.”
With a relatively small number of sightings compared to some of the other packs, I’m not sure Center Campus groundhogs are interested in growing their numbers. They just want to scurry on their way.
Groundhogs love food, and it’s no surprise that the biggest dining hall on campus has attracted its furry orbiters like moths to a lamp. South Campus has birthed its own grouping of groundhogs, mostly around Snow and Rome Dining Hall. In one video provided by Katherine Riedling, a groundhog is seen snooping in a bush in front of Snow Hall, perhaps waiting for the perfect time to scare a student into dropping their Grab-n-Go for their taking.
No, there isn’t a part of campus called “miscellaneous,” but yes, some groundhogs prefer to stick it out on their lonesome. There’s some evidence of a sixth pack forming near Storrs Center, but sightings are few and far between. That area was home to my favorite sighting though.
“One baby groundhog lives near Buckley and Shippee, and he really likes watermelon somehow,” gushed Megana Varma.
Just south of the watermelon-chomping baby groundhog, Mansfield Apartments provided the location of two sightings. With a quarter mile from the main part of campus and a direct border to Tift Pond, it could foster a family or two in the near future (if they aren’t there already).
There was also one comment of one outside a sorority in Husky Village, but the groundhog was too busy pregaming to comment.
If huskies didn’t exist, our merchandise might have a groundhog on it. If you see one, know that it’s just as much a member of this community as you are. Groundhogs are a gift to our campus, and every time I see one scurrying from hole to hole, it makes my day.
Daniel Cohn is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.