Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, land-beavers and whistle-pigs, are a species of rodent. They are members of the ground squirrel family and are related to prairie dogs and chipmunks. If you include the tail they measure about 40 to 60 cm (16-24 inches) long and weigh up to 4 kg (9 lbs). However, in areas where there are less predators they can grow to as much as 80 cm (30 in) long and weigh as much as 14 kg (31 lbs). They can live for up to 6 years in the wild and in captivity have been known to live for as long as 14 years! Groundhogs are known for their ability to dig with their thick claws. They are similar in appearance to other members of the squirrel family. They are also covered in two coats of fur, which means that they are well adapted for cooler climates. Let’s find out where groundhogs live.
Range and Distribution
Groundhogs can be found throughout much of North America. They are very common in the central and north-eastern sections of the United States and Canada. They are also found in the western sections of Canada all the way through to Alaska. They are not common in the western United States, but are occasionally found in the northernmost states in this region. They are a popular target for sports hunting, but this has had little effect on their numbers. They reproduce at a very fast rate and the clearing of forests has actually provided more habitat from this animal.
Groundhogs enjoy the open country and often found on the edges of woodland areas. Groundhogs spend much of their time in burrows, which they use for sleeping, bringing up their young and hibernating. Groundhogs are very efficient burrowers and they can move approximately 2,500 kilograms (5,500 lbs) of soil when digging a single burrow. Groundhogs are mostly solitary, but as many as five individuals may occupy a single burrow. Burrows are large and cover as much as 14 m (46 ft) of tunnels. Each burrow has between two and five entrances, which are used to escape from predators.
Did you know?
Groundhogs are sometimes considered to be an agricultural and residential pest. Their tunnel systems are extensive and can damage agricultural land and machinery as well as residential developments.