Do you know what does a woodchuck look like even if you have never seen it or you wouldn’t identify it even if you saw it?
Woodchucks (Marmota monax) are also referred to as groundhogs or whistle pigs due to the sound they make with their large teeth to warn others of danger. It belongs to the marmot family and there are several species of it in North America.
Woodchuck is found mostly in the Eastern United States and Southern Canada. In New England, you will find woodchucks inhabit both urban and suburban yards, meadows, fields, woodland clearings, and grassy areas along the highway.
Woodchucks can be very destructive as they feed on vegetable gardens, plants, lawns, and other landscaping. They can cause extensive damage to the lawns as they burrow underneath them.
What Is A Woodchuck Look Like?
Woodchucks have large front incisors that they use to eat away your vegetables
They have a large body than squirrels and can grow up to 20 inches in length with a tail that measures about 6 inches roughly. They can weigh up to 14 pounds.
These creatures have short muscular legs that are used in digging with short powerful limbs, strong claws, and a short stubby tail
Their eyes, ears, and noses are located at the top of their heads for safely peering out of dens or to spot danger
They have a tan brown color their whole body
How Does A Woodchuck Behave?
Woodchucks are active during the day and feed in the early morning or late afternoon. They like to spend the rest of the day sleeping or basking in the sun.
They hibernate starting from late summer to start putting on weight in preparation for the move to their winter dens in the wooded areas during winter. Hibernation starts from October to March. Their temperatures drop from 99 degrees F to 40 degrees F. Their heartbeat also drops from 100 beats per minute to 4 beats per minute.
They have fewer predators because of their size but foxes, dogs, and raccoons still go after them.
What Does A Woodchuck Eat?
Woodchucks are vegetarians – they feed on a variety of grasses and chickweeds, plantains, clover, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, and other fruits along with many varieties of cultivated flowers and plants. These creatures love fresh produce too. They also eat June bugs, grasshoppers, and other large insects.
Woodchuck’s Life Cycle
Woodchucks have a lifespan of 5 to 6 years. They do not mate until their second year. Males and females breed in March or April. After this, they have no further contact with the female leaving them to raise the young alone.
Woodchucks give birth from early to mid-May following a 32 day gestation period. Each litter can contain 4 to 6 kits. The young open their eyes at four weeks and are weaned at six weeks. At this time they are ready to burrow with their mothers and fend for themselves. During fall, the young woodchucks venture off to start their own territories leaving their mother behind.
5 Important Takeaways To Remember How Woodchuck Look
If you forget everything else, don’t forget these five facts.
- Woodchucks, Whistle Pigs, and Groundhogs Are The Same Thing – Just because they are called woodchucks doesn’t mean they have anything to do with wood. The name originates from the Native Americans. The name whistle pigs are common for the Appalachia due to their habit of making a high-pitched whistling sound. Groundhogs stem from their habit of digging to make their homes away from predators.
They Are Just Large Squirrels – Just because they weigh about 15 pounds and they are a bit bigger than squirrels doesn’t make them any different. These are the largest members of the squirrel family and within the taxonomic tribe of marmots or ground squirrels. This group also includes prairie dogs and chipmunks. Like their family members, they are good diggers that make large, complex underground burrows.
Woodchucks Are Important Intermediaries In The Food Chain – These are primarily herbivores and eat a variety of plants including those grown in the gardens. But they also eat pests like snails, grubs, and other insects. They don’t have many predators apart from foxes, coyotes, domestic dogs, and humans.
They Have Quite A Fast Pregnancy – Their mating season is in the early spring and they have a month-long pregnancy giving birth to a litter of two to six blind, hairless kits. That’s why these creatures are always many in numbers. Woodchucks disperse during the fall with the young reaching sexual maturity by 2 years. And the cycle continues.
Woodchucks Are Among The Few Animals That Hibernate – This is part of their behavior that makes them hibernate during the cold season. In hibernation, they lose half of their weight and emerge in February as winter is ending.
Now that we know what woodchuck look like, let’s learn are woodchucks dangerous? Woodchucks can scratch and bite if they sense danger, are threatened or are cornered. Do not corner them or threaten them even if they are destroying your garden. Find other means to eliminate them.