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Scientific name: Marmota monax

The woodchuck, also known as the groundhog, is common to the area, although it is quite shy. It is never far from its burrow and will retreat if it senses danger. They are often seen standing quietly on their hind legs, assessing potential threats. You might be surprised to learn that they can swim, and climb trees, if necessary (they are related to the squirrel). They also vocalize with a series of chipping and grunting to warn of danger.


5- 12 pounds. They loose a lot of weight during hibernation.


16 to 20 inches

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Herbivorous for the most part. Their diet is made up of foods such as grasses, berries, dandelions, lettuce, etc. They will also eat grubs, grasshoppers and even other small animals.


Open country and woodland edges. They are excellent at digging burrows and dens.

Life Cycle

The groundhog hibernates in the winter months. Once they emerge in the spring, they mate and have from 2 to 6 young. They will stay in their dens until they are old enough to fend for themselves. The male may or may not return to the family. In any event, by August, many of them will leave to set up their own burrows.

Ecosystem Connections

Other animals may use the woodchucks’ burrows and dens.

Human Connections

The human environment has allowed the groundhog to flourish, as it coexists well with development and the presence of people.


Unique to this animal is the extensive excavation of burrows, where they sleep, breed and hibernate. They have been known to develop tunnels over 50 feet in length, with numerous entrances. Chambers are included in this system and are dedicated for specific purposes such as nursery, sleeping, pooping and “romance”!

Hundreds of pounds of soil an be excavated in this process.

Fun Facts

Let’s not forget Groundhog Day on February 2!

Family Structure

The groundhog is a solitary animal. He lives alone and only briefly spends time with the female to breed. Once the young are weaned, they go off on their own as well.

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