Size: Head and body, 17.75 to 24 in (45 to 61 cm); Tail, 7 to 9.75 in (18 to 25 cm)
Weight: 13 lbs (6 kg)
Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks or marmots, are the largest members of the squirrel family. The groundhog, or woodchuck, is one of 14 species of marmots. These rodents live a feast-or-famine lifestyle and gorge themselves all summer to build up plentiful reserves of fat. After the first frost, they retreat to their underground burrows and snooze until spring, drawing their sustenance from body fat. While hibernating, the animal's heart rate plunges, and its body temperature is not much warmer than the temperature inside its burrow.
What does a Groundhog look like?
Groundhogs are well adapted for digging, with short but powerful limbs and curved, thick claws. The groundhog's spine is curved, more like that of a mole, and the tail is comparably shorter as well. Only about one-fourth of body length. Suited to their temperate habitat, groundhogs are covered with two coats of fur: a dense grey undercoat and a longer coat of banded guard hairs that gives the groundhog its distinctive "frosted" appearance.
Where do Groundhogs live?
Groundhogs are found as far north as Alaska, with their habitat extending southeast to Alabama. Groundhogs can be found throughout North America and particularly in the east. Their species ranges from the southeastern United States up through northern Canada and northwest to Alaska. Groundhogs build their homes underground and often beneath sheds, decks, patios and other structures which offer protection.
What does a Groundhog eat?
Mostly herbivorous, groundhogs primarily eat wild grasses and other vegetation, and berries and agricultural crops when available. Groundhogs also eat grubs, grasshoppers, insects, snails and other small animals.
Why does the groundhog have a holiday?
Groundhog hibernation gave rise to the popular American custom of Groundhog Day, held on the second of February every year. Tradition dictates that if a groundhog sees its shadow that day, there will be six more weeks of winter, though such a prediction seems a sure bet over much of the groundhog's North American range.
What is special about the groundhog?
Groundhogs are the largest members of the squirrel family. Though they are usually seen on the ground, they can climb trees and are also capable swimmers. These rodents frequent the areas where woodlands meet open spaces, like fields, roads, or streams. Here they eat grasses and plants as well as fruits and tree bark. Groundhogs are the bane of many a gardener. They can decimate a plot while voraciously feeding during the summer and fall seasons.
Did you know this about groundhogs?
Groundhogs typically measure 40 - 65 centimeters long and weigh 2-4 kilograms. In areas where there is more alfalfa, they can grow much bigger.
Groundhogs are great diggers and burrowers with powerful short limbs and sharp claws.
Groundhogs are covered with two coats of fur; a short and longer coat to accommodate our colder climates.
In the wild, groundhogs have a lifespan between 2-6 years. In captivity, they can far exceed this limit.
Common predators for the groundhog are wolves, coyotes, foxes, bears, hawks, owls and dogs.
Groundhogs like to eat wild grass, alfalfa and other vegetation, berries and agricultural crops. They will also eat bugs and insects.
Groundhogs are one of the few species that enter into true hibernation and hibernate from October to March/April (except for our Willie who wakes up for a short stint to make his prediction).
Download free Groundhog wallpapers, click on the image to open the large version.
Groundhog wallpaper 2
Groundhog wallpaper 3
Groundhog wallpaper 4
Groundhog Coloring pages
Print free Groundhog coloring pages, click on the image to open the large version.