The groundhog, also called a whistlepig or woodchuck, is a rodent found in the family of Sciuridae. It is in a large group of ground squirrels called marmots. The groundhog may also be called a red monk, weenusk, moonack, monax, thickwood badger, groundpig and wood-shock.
The groundhog is the largest animal in the sciurid family, and according to its geographical range, it may measure from 16 to 26 inches, and this includes 6 inches of tail. It weighs from 4 to 9lbs. Where there are few natural predators with much alfalfa, the groundhog may grow to reach up to 30 inches long and 31 lbs. The groundhogs are able to dig using their powerful but short limbs with thick or curved claws. Contrary to other sciurid, the spine of the groundhog has been curved like that of the mole. The tail is also shorter, which is only one fourth of its entire body length. It is suited to temperate habitats. The groundhogs are covered with two coats of fur, a dense grey undercoat and a long coat of banded guard hairs. This gives the groundhog a distinctive frosted appearance.
The groundhogs are called an edge species because they live in the transitional area where woodlands and the forest meet but where they are well-vegetated with an open meadow or field. The groundhogs spend most of the time underground in a complex burrow, and they can dig in dry but well-drained soil. Most of the time, the groundhogs will dig the burrow in places where there are home foundations, beside structures, hedgerows, fencerows and trees.
The groundhog may eat at least 1/3 of its weight in vegetation every day. They are known to be herbivores and they can eat insects sometimes. During the summer or fall, the groundhog will increase its consumption of food in order to get more fat reserves, which they will use in order to survive during the winter hibernation season.
The groundhogs are diurnal, which means they are more active during the day in spring and fall but the activities take place in the early morning and evening hours. This is when they will come out of the burrow in order to get food. The groundhogs are hibernators and they enter into a deep sleep in October and emerge in spring. When the temperature drops, their heart beat will drop from 80 beats in a minute to 5 in a minute. The groundhogs survive on the fat reserves that they made in fall and summer. Nowadays, we can say that it is more common for people to find wild animals such as raccoons, opossums, and deer on their property. Wild animals are known to be quite destructive and can carry dangerous diseases that can pose a risk to humans.
Go back to the How to Get Rid of Pests page or email us if you have any other questions about How big do groundhogs get?
We are the Pest Education Network, a non-profit organization that focuses on wildlife and pest removal education. Our approach utilizes Integrated Pest Management, a strategy advocating prevention and humane methods.