A male groundhog has for years been nabbing vegetables from a man’s personal garden and munching them while staring deep into his surveillance cameras.
Videos of the groundhog, known as Chunk, have repeatedly gone viral, and show the critter nonchalantly chomping on Delaware resident Jeff Permar’s tomatoes, broccoli, corn, and other produce.
Cheeks flapping and jaw crunching at blinding speed, Chunk tends to gaze into Permar’s surveillance cameras while eating, as though “looking into your soul,” Permar, an IT professional, told Insider.
Permar, who now posts Chunk’s escapades on social media, said he started noticing in 2019 that his garden was being pillaged.
When he installed motion-detecting cameras, the sight of Chunk stealing his vegetables enraged him at first. The groundhog would burst into the frame, veggie in hand, gnawing away as if taunting Permar.
“Out of nowhere, pops this groundhog,” Permar said. “At first, I was upset about it, and I still tried to keep the groundhog out. But eventually he had won my heart over.”
Chunk was literally taking chunks out of Permar’s veggies — earning the groundhog its name.
But what captivated Permar was how boldly Chunk would stare into the camera while gnawing on his crop.
“When Chunk eats our garden veggies he loves to throw it in our face,” Permar wrote in a YouTube account for Chunk. “Chunk plops himself right in front of the camera every time and devours our produce! He even has the nerve to stare right into the camera like a boss.”
WATCH THE VIDEOS BELOW:
Chunk eventually brought along a female groundhog, dubbed Nibbles by Permar and fans on social media. The pair of vegetable pirates keep busy, and have a fresh litter of babies in tow every year, which are given nicknames like Niblet, Nugget, and Snacks.
As they grow older, Chunk’s offspring spread out across the surrounding region, but some occasionally return to the garden.
Permar now calls the entire family “the Chunks,” and said his experience with them has changed his outlook on wildlife.
He’s set aside parts of his garden for the Chunks to raid, a bath for them to swim in, and even a mini picnic table in a section of his property known as “Chunk Land.”
Permar tries not to interact personally with the groundhogs, hoping to keep them as “wild as possible,” he said.
“This whole process taught me how to coexist with the animals,” Permar said in a recent video on Chunk’s social media accounts. “You know, this is their land too. They’re just trying to survive, so if I can have a garden to help them in that, so be it. There’s plenty. I’ll get my share, they’ll get their share.”
The groundhogs have been enjoying plenty of online fame. Permar’s Instagram account for Chunk has more than 570,000 followers, and he runs an online merchandise store that sells hoodies and tote bags featuring the veggie-loving family.
There’s even a plushie of Chunk holding his favorite vegetable — broccoli.
Permar has been posting videos of the Chunks on social media every day, and said he’s never missed a post. The Chunks’ ability to get people to laugh and smile helps him stay on his streak, he added.
“I never expected it to grow to this,” he said.
Meanwhile, the groundhog family has adopted Chunk’s penchant for eating in front of the camera. It’s eerily consistent.
Permar believes the groundhogs are intrigued by their reflections on the camera lenses. “That’s the one thing that all the Chunks do, is that they’ll just stop and stare right into the camera and chomp away,” Permar said.
With groundhogs generally living up to six years, Permar knows the “OG Chunk” won’t be around for much longer. But one of Chunk’s sons has taken up his father’s mantle.
“The star of the show now is actually Chunk Jr.,” Permar said. The younger male groundhog, easily identifiable by his lazy ear, appears the most on camera nowadays, according to Permar.
“Chunk isn’t going to live forever, unfortunately,” Permar said. “But his bloodline will be here, and they all act the same. They all stop and stare into the camera. They all have quirky mannerisms.”
By Permar’s estimate, the Chunk family tree includes some 17 groundhogs. But they don’t show up all at once, and have never caused him much trouble.
“It’s not what people think, like: ‘Oh my gosh, you’re feeding the groundhogs, there’s going to be millions of ’em.’ It’s really not like that at all,” he said.