When Jeff Permar moved his family into their Middletown, Delaware home in 2019, the green-thumbed IT guy quickly realized something was noshing on his garden veggies.
When he couldn’t figure out how animals were getting underneath the fence surrounding the garden, Permar set up a Blink security camera. In front of the lens appeared a voracious little groundhog.
“He literally just pops right up into the camera and he just starts gnawing away,” Permar recalled.
What could’ve been taken to be a nuisance pest has now become a worldwide sensation, with the groundhog – which Permar named Chunk – and his growing family starring in what is essentially their own reality television show.
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
At first, Permar began posting videos online of Chunk chewing away at his vegetables. Then, Chunk brought his “girlfriend” Nibbles. The pair eventually had babies, which Chunk’s half-million Instagram followers and YouTube fans named Chip, Nugget and Chibbles. Then came Chewy, Yummy, Snacks, Niblet and Wookie.
Blink gave Permar more motion-activated cameras, a fan made the Chunks signs – including one for their secondary den – and someone made them tiny picnic tables.
Now, the family of groundhogs has a global fanbase, with 518,000 Instagram followers and 116,000 YouTube subscribers as of Aug. 30 of this year. They even sell merch, from t-shirts to coffee mugs to tote bags.
U.S. & World
“Chunk fans are some of the most amazing fans. They love the Chunks. They love wildlife. They love gardener Jeff. They love what I’m doing here,” Permar said.
People tune in to watch the animals chow down on fruits and vegetables. They frolic in their little mini TV set, replete with small plants and even a tiny pond with toy ducks. Some videos are set to music, perfect for when the groundhogs pull out their own little unique jig.
Sometimes, other groundhogs pop in to grab a snack, but that’s OK: all groundhogs are welcome here.
Permar has grown to not only love his furry friends but also how happy they make other people.
“It’s just like somebody’s having a bad day, they’ll come to look at this video. They’ll laugh, they’ll feel better. And that’s not just from around this area; I get that from all over the world,” Permar said.