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Natural History of the Groundhog

Where do Groundhogs Live?

This map shows Home Range of the Groundhog, where they're presently sleeping underground.

Illustrated by Charlotte

Marmot is the Latin name for Groundhog. Woodchuck is the Native North American name for Groundhog.

Groundhogs live in open fields, open woods, valleys and plains. Some species live in different areas. The Woodchuck lives in Alaska to Quebec to British Columbia to the south east U.S.
by Jamie M.

Size, Weight and Appearance
The head and body of the Groundhog are 40-50 cm. The tail is 10-17.5cm and the average weight of a Groundhog 2.2-4.5 kilograms. Groundhogs have a heavy body, they're short legged and their fur colours are brown, red or black except for albinos like Wiarton Willie. Their fur has a slightly frosted appearance. Their feet are either black or brown the groundhogs don't have any white on their fur, only around their nose.

All Groundhogs have 22 teeth to eat with. They have a blunt nose, short ears and a bushy tail. Most of the groundhogs have coarse fur. They have black or brown eyes . All Groundhog males are mostly bigger then females.

Most Groundhogs live up to 4-5 years. In the autumn the Groundhogs get an extra layer of fat to keep them warm in the winter while hibernating. Groundhogs are also warm blooded.
by Ashley D.

About Rodents

Rodents' teeth never stop growing.

Illustrated by Alex C.

Rodents are usually small mammals with sharp teeth that never stop growing. Rodents use their teeth to chip away at their food. There are over two thousand species of rodents including squirrels, rats, mice, and porcupines. Together they form Rodentia, which is the largest order of mammals. Within this large group the Woodchuck is considered one of
the marmots.
By: Jason H.

Hibernation and Mating
The groundhog starts hibernating in around mid-October and wakes up in February through to March (in the case of Southern Ontario, they emerge from hibernation in mid-March), depending on the weather. The warmer it is, the sooner the groundhog wakes up. The colder it is, the later the groundhog wakes up. While it is hibernating its body temperature drops and its metabolism and heartbeat slows down to 4 to 5 beats per minute. Before hibernating it is very plump because it had gathered 1-2 cm of fat under his skin, which he uses to live on while he is hibernating.

Jodie Morrison
When he is ready to wake up, his heartbeat first raises to 80 beats per minute. Then it shivers uncontrollably. The whole process takes several hours. The elder males emerge first, followed by the elder females and finally, a few weeks later the young emerge. Almost immediately after emergence it searches for food to gain weight to compensate for the 4 to 5 months of not eating. Before eating though, the first thing on a groundhog's mind is mating.

Groundhogs are able to mate and have offspring when they are one year old. They mate during the months of March and April and the females stay pregnant 31-32 days. 2-6 are born in a litter.
By: Monica D.


Illustrated by
Alex C.

They have two burrows. One for the summer and one for the winter. Their burrows have a spy hole up top to survey the land, a toilet chamber up top so that the vapors can escape through the ground without making the burrow smell, and a nest. Groundhogs can often be seen surveying the land from their spy hole. When the Groundhogs select the area for their burrow they prefer a soft grassy area with a little bit of a slope and lots of leaves around the burrow to provide food. (Click here to go inside the groundhog's burrow).
By: Jamie M.

Related species

Range of Yellow Bellied Marmot

Illustrated by Tara M and Alex C-W.

There related species are albino, marmot, whistler, hoary marmot, yellow bellied marmot and the European marmot. The European marmot is found in high peaks of the alps and Pyrenees mountains. The Whistler or Hoary marmot is found in Northwestern North America. The Yellow Bellied Marmot is found in Southwestern Canada to New Mexico. The Albino can be found in any of those countries or places.
By: Ashley D.

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