Woodchuck – Ground Hog – Land Beaver – Whistle Pig

So how much wood, could a Woodchuck chunk if a Woodchuck could chunk wood?

You are not really going to care if you have them on your property. Woodchuck, land beaver, whistle pigs and groundhog are all names for the same marmot … and they don’t chunk wood. They will however burrow, tunnel and destroy gardens and crops since they are herbivores.



A woodchuck is the largest “ground squirrel” in North America. The woodchuck has a compact, chunky body supported by relatively short, strong legs. Its tail is short and bristly. Its forefeet have long, curved claws that are adapted for digging ground burrows where it seeks refuge and hibernates during winter months. Woodchucks have yellowish-brown to blackish-brown fur. Like other rodents, they have chisel-like incisor teeth that are used to nip off vegetation. From tip of nose to end of tail, woodchucks are approximately 20 to 27 inches long and weigh 5 to 12 pounds. Woodchucks hibernate during the winter, beginning with the first heavy frosts. They emerge from hibernation during late February or March when mating season begins. After a 30-day gestation period, young are born in April or early May. Litters average three to four young, and by mid-June or early July the young leave their home burrows and establish their own territories, usually moving into old, abandoned dens. The average life span of woodchucks is four to five years. Primary predators include hawks, owls, foxes, bobcats, coyotes, dogs, weasels, and humans.


Habitat and Food Habits

Woodchucks dig burrows, which they use to bear and raise young and escape from predators. Dens are typically located in open fields, meadows, pastures, fence rows, and woodland edges. In suburban areas, woodchucks commonly burrow under barns, sheds, and porches. Often woodchucks will take up residence under stone walls, woodpiles, or porches, using several auxiliary dens for shelter. The burrows dug by woodchucks are 8 to 66 feet long and 2 to 5 feet deep. They normally have two or three entrances,
although there may be as many as five. The main entrance can be identified by the mound of excavated dirt and stones surrounding the entrance.

Woodchucks are herbivores and eat a wide variety of vegetation, including grasses, weed shoots, clover, alfalfa, and soybeans. They will also consume garden vegetables such as cabbage, beans, peas, and carrots and fruits such as apples, cherries and pears. Woodchucks prefer early morning and evening hours for feeding because they depend on dew and plant moisture for their water intake.


Description of Damage

Woodchucks can become a nuisance when their feeding and burrowing habits conflict with human interests. They frequently damage vegetable and flower gardens, agricultural crops, orchards, nurseries and areas around buildings. Damage to crops can be costly. In addition, mounds of dirt and holes at burrow entrances can be hazardous to farm equipment and livestock. Woodchucks
are excellent climbers. They can damage fruit trees and ornamental shrubs as they gnaw or claw woody vegetation in orchards. Similar to ground squirrels, woodchucks may strip bark at the base of trees near their burrow entrance to mark their territories.


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia



*Information on this page was received from the Woodchucks, Wildlife Damage Management Fact Sheet Series, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, N.Y. ©2001 by Cornell University. http://wildlifecontrol.info/pubs/Documents/Woodchucks/Woodchuck_factsheet.pdf

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