All About The Groundhog: The Animal with Many Names


Photo: mirecca via Getty Images

No, it's not just a name of a day made famous by a movie.

Groundhogs are actually one of many names of a North American rodent and is today's focus of the GB blog!

Also known as woodchucks, whistle pigs, and land beavers, the groundhog is one of the most common mammals found in North America.

These shy creatures have many names because they can be found in a variety of habitats across the continent.

So get reading ready as we explore everything you need to know about groundhogs!

Description and Appearance

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Groundhogs are burrowing rodents that have stout, short legs, and a long bodies.

Their fur is reddish-brown to black, and they have a white stripe that runs down their face.

They are typically about two feet long and weigh between five and ten pounds.

While their front claws are short, their back claws are long and help them dig their burrows.

Groundhogs have small eyes and ears, and their tails are bushy.

Their teeth grow continuously, so they must gnaw on things to keep them from getting too long.

There are groundhogs that don't worry about growing teeth, and they're Gage Beasley's Groundhog Woodchuck Soft Stuffed Plush Toy. Why? Because they're plushies who only worry about taking care of your sleep at night, that's why! 

Gage Beasley's Groundhog Woodchuck Soft Stuffed Plush Toy

Diet

Groundhogs are herbivores, meaning they eat mostly plants.

Their diet consists of grasses, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

They also eat insects, but this makes up a relatively small percentage of their diet.

Groundhogs typically eat two or three times a day and will consume around fifteen pounds of food per week.

Reproduction

Groundhogs reproduce sexually, and their mating season occurs in the spring.

Males will often fight over females, and the victor will mate with several different females.

After a gestation period of around 32 days, the female will give birth to a litter of four to six young. A newborn groundhog is called a pup.

The young are born blind and helpless and remain in the den with their mother until they are around six weeks old.

Groundhogs reach sexual maturity at around one year old and can live for up to six years in the wild.

Distribution & Habitat

Groundhogs can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, meadows, farms, and urban areas.

They are most commonly found in the eastern and central United States, as well as parts of Canada.

Groundhogs will build their burrows in a variety of locations, including under trees, bushes, and gardens.

They typically live alone but will share their burrow with other groundhogs during the winter.

In the summer, they will move to different locations depending on the availability of food.

Conservation

Photo: bahadir-yeniceri via Getty Images

While groundhogs are not currently listed as a threatened or endangered species, they are still susceptible to many threats.

Their main threat is loss of habitat, as development and deforestation reduce their available habitats.

They are also vulnerable to disease, hunting, and traffic accidents.

Groundhogs are considered a game species in many states, so they can be hunted during certain seasons.

While groundhogs may be considered a nuisance by some, they are still an important part of many ecosystems.

So be sure to give them the appreciation they deserve!

Other Interesting Facts

  • Groundhogs hibernate from October to March.
  • Groundhog Day actually has its roots in an ancient Christian holiday.
  • Groundhogs are the only animal that can predict the weather! If it sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter.
  • They can swim & climb!
  • Groundhogs are one of the few animals that can digest milk as adults.
  • The groundhog is the state animal of Pennsylvania.
  • In some parts of the country, groundhogs are also known as chuckwallas.
  • Groundhogs have been known to cause up to $500 million in damage each year to agricultural crops.
  • Groundhogs are one of the few animals that can contract rabies.

Final Thoughts

Groundhogs may not be the most glamorous animals, but they are still interesting creatures. While they may cause some problems for humans, they are still an important part of many ecosystems. So next time you see a groundhog, take a moment to appreciate them! Thanks for reading!

Cheers!

~GB


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