Groundhog

Groundhog

(Marmotax monax)

Conservation Status:

Least Concern

Origin:

North America

Lifespan:

2 to 3 years, up to 6 years

In captivity, they have been recorded living up to 14 years.

Size:

Adults are 16 to 20 inches, with a tail 6 inches.

Adults weigh 5 to 12 lbs. They do have seasonal weight change.

Diet:

Herbivore

They eat wild grasses and other vegetation, including berries.

In spring, they eat dandelions and coltsfoot.

Some other food sources are sheep sorrel, timothy-grass, buttercup, tearthumb, agrimony, red and black raspberries, buckwheat, plantain, wild lettuce, all varieties of clover, and alfalfa.

Occasionally, they will eat grubs, grasshoppers, insects, and snails.

Activity:

Diurnal

Reproduction:

Groundhogs usually breed in their second year.

Breeding season is from March to mid- or late April. This is after hibernation.

A mated pair will stay together in the same den until the birth of the young.

The gestation period is 31 days. The litter size is about 6 young.

The male leaves the den after the young are born.

The female introduces the young to the wild once they grow fur and are no longer blind.

The male returns to help encourage the young to copy the adults’ behaviors.

By the end of August, the family separates, creating their own dens/burrows.

 

 

Extra Facts:

Groundhogs are also called woodchuck, whistlepig, Canada marmot.

Young are called chucklings.

Groundhogs are a rodent belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots.

They alert other groundhogs using a high-pitched whistle to warn the rest of the colony.

They are one of a few species that enter into true hibernation and often have a separate den for it.

They hibernate from October to March or April. The male emerges from hibernation before females.