Woodchucks - the Heroes of Groundhog Day
By: Tippy & Alfred
How many chucks, could a woodchuck, chuck, if a
woodchuck could chuck wood?
Remember that old tongue twister we learned as kids.
On the second Saturday of every February Groundhog Day
is celebrated across the United States. The star of
the show is a groundhog who comes out of his hole and
if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of
winter. If the woodchuck doesn't see his shadow then
there will be an early spring.
Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day
Woodchucks are know by names including groundhog,
whistle pig, land beaver, marmot, and manax. Woodchucks
are rodents belonging to the family of land squirrels.
A Woodchuck hibernates during the winter. Often woodchucks
will have two homes. One during the summer close to
food sources and shallow. The other home will be more
secluded, deeper and a place to hibernate during the winter.
Their hibernation burrow is dug below the frost line
which helps maintain a relatively constant temperature
keeping the animals from freezing.
Woodchucks hibernate from October to March or April, but
in more temperate areas, they may hibernate as little
as 3 months.
When a woodchuck goes to sleep, or hibernates, during the
winter, it's heartbeat drops from a normal rate of 80 - 100
beats per minute to fewer than 10. During hibernation,
a woodchuck may also lose up to one third of it's body
Woodchucks are vegetarians eating mostly grasses,
seeds, leaves, flowers, fruit, eggs, and some insects.
They build their dens or burrows close to their food sources.
Burrows have been found that were up to 45 feet in
length and as much as 5 feet underground. Most borrows
have one main entrance and can have up to 5 secondary entrances.
When a woodchuck senses danger it will often stand
up on both rear legs to get a better view. If a woodchuck
thinks it may be in real danger, it's defenses are
to scurry back to it's burrow. Woodchucks have good
eyesight and hearing which helps them sense when danger
is near. If they are in a group, when one woodchuck
senses danger it will whistle to the rest of the group.
A typical woodchuck is from 17 to 24 inches long, and
weighs from 4 to 10 pounds.. Woodchucks are fairly
common in most parts of the United States. Woodchucks
live from 2 to 6 years.
Classification: Class Mammalia (mammals), Order Rodentia
(rodents), Family Sciuridae (ground squirrels),
Genus Marmota (marmots), species M. monax
All About The Holidays