What Does A Woodchuck Look Like?

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Last Updated on March 16, 2023 by Cristina

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.

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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.

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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.
Woodchucks, Whistle Pigs, and Groundhogs
  • 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.

Takeaways To Remember How Woodchuck Look



What's the difference between a woodchuck and a groundhog?

A woodchuck is a small, mostly nocturnal mammal in the genus Marmota of the marmot family. The woodchuck is native to North America and is found in temperate regions throughout most of Canada and the United States, but not Alaska or Hawaii.

The main difference is that woodchucks are mammals, whereas groundhogs are not. Groundhogs are in the same family as rabbits (which are also rodents), but they're not mammals. A groundhog is more like a squirrel than it is like a rabbit. Squirrels can climb trees, they are nocturnal, and they have opposable thumbs.

A groundhog can be seen in daylight.

What does a woodchuck eat?

They eat grass, roots, fruits, seeds, eggs, fungi, insects and small animals.

They also have a tendency to gnaw on things such as fence posts, wires and other woody items.

How many kinds of woodchucks are there?

There are at least 10 different species of woodchuck. One of the most common ones is the groundhog. It is found throughout the northern part of the United States and Canada.

How do I get rid of a groundhog in my yard?

Groundhogs can be a nuisance when they dig holes under your lawn and ruin your grass.They can also be a danger to the pets you have. To keep them from digging holes in your yard, you need to use a groundhog deterrent that is humane and effective. If the groundhog is inside the yard, you can try putting a metal pan under the area where he/she is and putting a few inches of water in it. That should drown the little critter. If you don't have a pan, you could just put some stones in the area and see if that will work.

Do groundhogs come out at night?

Groundhogs are active animals that come out of their burrows during the day to eat, drink and socialize. They are usually seen at dawn and dusk and in between during the day. The groundhog’s diet includes small insects and grubs, but they will also eat plants such as grasses, weeds, and other types of vegetation. They are most active in the morning (about 7am) and during the fall and winter months.

What do groundhogs hate the most?

The answer, of course, is people. But groundhogs aren’t always so grouchy. In fact, they can be quite friendly. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, it's being chased. When they're being chased by dogs or people, groundhogs freeze, crouch and curl up. They may even try to dig themselves into a hole or burrow in the ground. It's a good thing they do, because they're incredibly hard to catch.

Do Groundhogs dig tunnels?

Digging tunnels is a normal behavior of groundhogs. They use their snouts to dig tunnels under fences, basements, porches and other places where they feel comfortable. They are not digging tunnels to escape predators, but they might use them as escape routes when they feel threatened.

Groundhogs are herbivores, so they eat mostly plants. The main food source of groundhogs are roots, grasses and other underground plants.


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.

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