ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The secret life of the groundhog

Updated on February 2, 2012

The groundhog, scientific name Marmota monax, also commonly know as a woodchuck, is a member of the rodent family. It belongs to the scientific family Sciuridae, along with other well known creatures such as squirrels, chipmunks, and prairie dogs. Most wildly known for it's yearly role of predicting when spring will begin, the groundhog is an interesting animal that many people probably don't know much about.

Groundhogs are large, usually 40 to 65 cm long, and weigh about 4 to 6 pounds. However, that is just an average and in more suitable habitats with abundant food sources groundhogs have been recorded to reach up to 31 pounds. They have short powerful legs that are excellent for digging, and short somewhat stubby tails. Their fur is coarse and consists of a dense insulating undercoat and longer protective guard hairs. In the wild, the groundhog lives an average of 3 years but some make it to about 6. In captivity groundhogs seem to live a bit longer, with reports stating that they can live anywhere from 9 to 22 years.

Groundhogs are native to North America and can be found in the United States in lowland habitats from Alaska to Alabama. Most groundhogs can be found in open areas on the outskirts of woodlands. They are diurnal, meaning most active during the day. These private animals live in burrows that they excavate themselves. Most groundhogs never stray too far from their burrow entrance. Their underground homes usually have at least two or more separate entrances. The numerous burrow entrances helps make it easier for groundhogs to escape predators. If one groundhog spots danger, it will alert others in the area by making a whistle like warning sound. The most common predators of groundhogs include coyotes, foxes, wolves, bears, bobcats, hawks, snakes, and dogs.

A groundhogs burrow is central to it's life, providing shelter, a place to sleep and hibernate, and it is also where they raise their young. Groundhogs usually start breeding when they are two years old. Their breeding season starts in late February to early March and extends to late April. Baby groundhogs have a gestation time of about 31 days. The young, normally around 3 - 6 in a litter, are born hairless and blind. They don't stay that way for long, though, and by the time they are about 6 weeks old they are usually ready to start leaving their mother's borrow to make burrows of their own.

Groundhogs are mostly herbivores, but will also eat insects, snails, and other small animals they come across. Most of their diet, however, consists of wild grasses and vegetation. They also eat berries and agricultural crops when they can, and have been seen eating nuts as well. Groundhogs do not drink water, they obtain all the hydration they need through their food.

Groundhogs are one of the few animals who truly hibernate. Hibernation starts around October, and generally goes until March or April depending on the climate. To prepare for hibernation, groundhogs eat as much as they can to gain as much weight as possible before retreating to a special winter burrow, dug below the frost line, to hibernate.

Groundhogs are most famous for their role in the holiday Groundhog day, celebrated in the US and Canada on February 2nd. According to the legend, if the groundhog emerges from hibernation on February 2nd and it is cloudy out (the groundhog doesn't see it's shadow) then spring will come early that year. If it's sunny, however, and the groundhog can see it's shadow, then the groundhog will return to it's burrow and there will be 6 more weeks of winter weather. Groundhog day celebrations around North America usually involve using a real captive groundhog to make weather predictions. Proponents of these rodent weather forecasters claim that the groundhogs predictions are accurate up to 90% of the time. However, a Canadian study suggests that their success rate is much lower, at around only 37%. Whether the groundhogs are correct or not, Groundhog day is a fun day to celebrate and to start to look forward to the impending approach of Spring.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)