On Groundhog Day: Ten Things to Know about These Surprising Creatures

As we approach Groundhog Day 2012 (February 2nd), we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the remarkable things that are known about these critters. Groundhogs (or woodchucks) are rodents and are part of the marmot family. After squirrels, they are among the most frequently observed mammals in the U.S. and Canada.

Here are ten things you may not have known about America’s “woodchucks.”

The name “woodchuck” does not come from these creatures tossing wood around or from just being woodland dwellers but rather it comes from an Algonquian (possibly Narragansett) name for the animal, wuchak.
The average animal weighs between 4-9 pounds but some (in places where there is alfalfa farming, for example) have been known to reach 30 pounds which would make them “woodchunks.”
Many people are surprised to discover that groundhogs are accomplished swimmers and (when pursued by a predator or reaching for a snack) are excellent tree climbers.
When they observe something that might be a threat, they will rise up on their hind legs and let out a clear warning whistle to family members much in the same way as prairie dogs in the West.

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  • Ground hogs are a scourge to a home gardener, they will destroy a small garden in one night. Fences do no good, they just dig under them. Baring an accurate blast from a 12 gauge, the best counter measure I have used is to find the entrance to their burrow & continually urinate into it. I guess it grosses them out so much that eventually they leave for less smelly digs. I read about this on a gardening blog last year & tried it. Yes, it worked.

  • Nissan 5702

    Mr Stewart:
    Wouldn’t a .22 gauge rifle or hand gun do better and more humane than a ‘SHOTGUN’ ….
    Gezz, you’re so brave ….
    Or maybe you don’t how to hunt and stalk …..
    They’re eatable too ….. dang city dwellers …..

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