Natural History of Groundhogs
Mr. Murray's 7th Grade Students
Dolphin Senior Public School
For pictures and detailed information on Groundhogs:
The Latin name for the groundhog is marmota monax. In Ontario it is
also called the Woodchuck, which comes from the Alongkian Indian name for
The groundhog is fury with brown hair has a large
head short legs chunky body small bushy tail and it has no special
markings. In the autumn groundhogs get an extra layer of fat.
The groundhog lives in open forests, forest edges, and rocky
areas. They dig holes in the forest and find holes in rocky areas.
CALLS: The Groundhog has a few calls: a shrill whistle if alarmed. It also
hisses , growls and squeals when annoyed. It also releases different smells
to communicate .
After hibernation the Male Woodchuck finds the Female and
they both mate in a burrow. The female produces 2-6 young. The female has
one litter each year of her life. The blind and hairless young will open
their eyes and start to grow fur in one month and then, after two months,
they will have to fend for themselves.
head and body put together equals 40 to 50 cm. It has a fairly small
tail which is 10 to 17.5 cm.
The Groundhog's average mass is 2 to 5.5 kg. Its weight increases
just before hibernation.
The Groundhog has little teeth and a well developed coat Many
Groundhogs have different colored coats. Red, Brown and Black are the most
Among some of the Groundhog's predators are the Coyotes, Wolves,
Bears, Red Foxes, and Cougar. Because Groundhogs eat crops, like clover,
corn and grain, farmers try to kill them. Many others die from being hit by
cars. The population of groundhogs has declined recently in Ontario due
the increased population of coyotes.
They can have young when they are a year old. They mate between
March and April. The mothers are pregnant for 31-32 days. They have 2-6
young in a litter.
Chipmunk, Ground and Tree Squirrels, Marmots, Prairie
Dogs, and the Squirrel Family
They eat green plants such as Grass, Leaves and Alfalfa. They put on
a lot of weight before hibernation. When they wake up they've lost half of
The woodchucks burrow entrance is well concealed from predators and they
also make a fake entrance to their burrow so the enemies can not trap them
in. The woodchuck excavates his burrow in fields and its familiar to
farmers. The woodchuck often sits in front of it's burrow (on a mound of
dirt that was dug out from the burrow) and surveys the land looking for
predators. Sometimes the groundhog sits on a fence post for a better view.
Wiarton Willy is a very rare albino groundhog with white hair and pink
eyes and can not see very well. Wiarton willy is a rare groundhog because
albinism is very rare!
Although predators are a major cause of death of groundhogs, there is an
other way groundhogs die and it happens during hibernation. Some
groundhogs go into hibernation and don't ever wake up.
Groundhogs can get diseases like hepatitis B, Bronchopneumonia, pneumonia.
They are most likely to get diseases when they are to skinny and are not