Critter Corner -
DID YOU KNOW:
The groundhog, famous as the weather predictor on Groundhog Day,
is also called a woodchuck. It is shaped like a beaver but
is smaller and has a short tail, short stout legs and very big
The woodchuck eats dandelions, clover, weeds and other kinds of
vegetation - they don't chuck or eat wood! They eat all
day long during warm weather to build up fat in their bodies to
survive the long cold winter.
A mother woodchuck has three to six babies, each 4 inches long
and weighing about 1 ounce. The babies are usually born in
April in a burrow. They have no fur and their eyes are
shut. By six weeks of age, the youngsters are fully furred,
eyes open and ready to live on their own.
Woodchucks dig their burrows in open areas at a woodland edge,
such as a pasture, a meadow or a golf course. Other
animals, including skunks and foxes, may use the woodchuck's
excellently dug burrows.
dive headfirst into their burrows when they are in danger. If
cornered, they will hiss and growl. They often stand on
their hind legs to check for trouble. If the woodchuck
sees a predator, he may give a very loud whistle.
In early November, woodchucks enter their burrows, block the
entrance, curl up into a ball and hibernate. During
this deep sleep, their heart beat slows from about 80 beats
a minute to 4 beats a minute. Their body temperature
drops to as low as 37 degrees -- just a little above
The woodchuck emerges from his burrow in February or March
-- but he really can not forecast when Spring will start.
A woodchuck's teeth grow continuously. He keeps them
ground down by eating coarse food like stems, twigs and
Woodchucks can swim and climb trees, although they prefer to
stay on the ground.
To learn more about
(Photo credits: Portrait of
woodchuck from National Parks Service, Diagram of woodchuck
burrow from Missouri Department of Conservation, Standing
woodchuck from Wikipedia)