Woodchuck

Marmota monax

Copyright, R. W. Van Devender

Woodchucks, also called groundhogs, are large rodents. They are brown with bushy tails, small ears, and short legs.

Woodchucks can grow up to 32 inches long, and weigh up to 14 pounds.

A Woodchuck's feet are usually darker brown or black.

These animals are known to live in fields, woods, lawns, and gardens.

Woodchucks are active during the day, especially in early morning and late afternoon.

Copyright, Canal Photos

Woodchucks dig large burrows which can be up to five feet deep and 30 feet long. A burrow usually has a nest chamber lined with grasses, a main entrance, and several escape openings. The main entrance can be a foot wide. Woodchucks also have a special chamber in their burrows for pooping. They are very clean animals.

Woodchucks usually live on their own, except during mating season. At this time, a male woodchuck will go visit a female's burrow. After mating, he will leave.

Female Woodchucks have one litter each year, with four or five young. They are usually born in April or May.

Bear Hollow

Woodchucks eat mostly plants, including: grasses, clovers, plantain, Sassafras, Smooth Sumac, Flowering Dogwood, Black Cherry, and honeysuckle. Occasionally, they will eat snails, insects, baby birds, or eggs.

In the Fall, Woodchucks eat a lot so they can put on extra fat for the Winter. Woodchucks hibernate in their nest chamber. During the cold months, Woodchucks are able to slow down their breathing to one breath per minute and their heartbeat to four beats per minute. They also lower their body temperature.

Copyright, Ernie Seckinger

Ministere de Losirs, Chasse, et Peche, Jardin Botanique de Montreal

Because of their large size, Woodchucks do not have very many predators. Most often, they are taken when they are young. Foxes, hawks, raccoons, and dogs are the Woodchuck's main predators. Many are also killed by cars.

When a Woodchuck is alarmed, it will give a sharp whistle before running to its burrow. Woodchucks are also good swimmers and climbers. They will sometimes climb trees to escape predators.

The main entrance of a Woodchuck burrow usually has a mound of dirt beside it. Old Woodchuck burrows are used by many animals as shelter, including: Red Fox, Virginia Opossum, Raccoon, Eastern Cottontail, Striped Skunk, and snakes.

Woodchucks usually end their hibernation in early Spring.

Woodchucks live for about six years.

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Woodchuck Emerging from Cover
Video
Phil Heine
Woodchuck Coloring Page
Link to Printable Page
EnchantedLearning.com
Download Quicktime if you are unable to play video.

Relationships in Nature:

PREY/FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Switchgrass

Red Fox

Switchgrass

Red Fox SP

Red Clover

Raccoon

Sassafras

Raccoon SP

Smooth Crabgrass

Red-tailed Hawk

Smooth Sumac

Virginia Opossum SP

English Plantain

Human

Pokeweed

Striped Skunk SP

Sassafras

Flowering Dogwood

Copperhead SP

Black Cherry

Japanese Honeysuckle

Northern Water Snake SP

Flowering Dogwood

Greenbrier

Black Rat Snake SP

Smooth Sumac

Wild Grape

American Dog Tick Pa

Japanese Honeysuckle

Common Ragweed

Asian Tiger Mosquito Pa

Northern Bobwhite

Kentucky Bluegrass

Eastern Blood-sucking Conenose Pa

Eastern Hognose Snake SP

Soil Mite C

Tufted Titmouse SP

Chigger Pa

Relationship to Humans:

For the most part, Woodchucks are very helpful to people. Their digging heps turn over the soil and mixes nutrients. Their pooping underground adds fertilizer to the soil. Some people consider them a pest, because they will sometimes raid gardens for vegetables, and because horses have been known to break their legs when they step in Woodchuck holes.

This animal has actually been helped by the development of land by people. The types of environments people create, such as lawns, gardens, and parks are good habitat for Woodchucks. The only drawback for them is cars. Many Woodchucks are killed trying to cross busy roads.

Some people hunt Woodchucks for food and fur.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Mammal
ORDER
Rodentia
FAMILY
Sciuridae
GENUS
Marmota
SPECIES
Marmota monax

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