Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin

Woodchuck (Groundhog) or "Whistle-pig"

Marmota monax


Woodchucks are rodents in the same family as squirrels. They can weigh up to 14 lbs and 25 inches long. Their fur is yellowish-brown to black. They have short legs and a small bushy tail.


Woodchucks can be found in meadows, pastures, crop fields and bushy/weedy areas along fence rows. They dig separate underground burrows for summer and winter, they can sometimes have more than one summer or winter burrows. Burrows are usually on a slope. Woodchucks are territorial, defending their burrows against intruders.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Woodchucks are herbivores, eating vegetation; their diet mostly consists of plants (grasses, ferns, leaves, and fruit). They may occasionally eat insects, eggs and young birds.


Woodchucks reach sexual maturity at 2 years old. Breeding takes place in late February and March. A female will give birth to one litter of four to five young in April-May. They typically only have one litter per year. After only a few months, young woodchucks are able to leave their mother and find their own territory.

Months and Times of Activity

Woodchucks hibernate during the winter in underground burrows; these winter burrows are located in wooded areas. Summer burrows are found near grassy fields.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

  • How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?  If they awake from hibernation before there is sufficient vegetation to eat, they will eat bark and small branches.
  • Native American information concerning groundhogs can be found at:
  • Children’s Book: Groundhogs Special Secret by Iris Arno


"Woodchuck (Groundhog)." Department of Natural Resources, n.d. Web. 25. Jan. 2013