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WOODCHUCK

Scientific Name: Marmota monax
Order
Rodentia

Family
Sciuridae

Habitat & Range
Woodchucks are most prevalent in the Northeastern and Central United States. They typically inhabit open country and woodland edges, building burrows for sleeping, hibernating, and nursing young.

Identification
Due to their temperate habitats, woodchucks have two coats of fur. Their dense, gray undercoat is covered by longer brown “guard hairs”. They are the largest sciurid in their geographic range, weighing an average of 4 to 9 pounds and measuring 16 to 26 inches, including their 6 inch tail. Their limbs are short and curved, with thick claws that are useful in burrowing.

Diet
The woodchuck is mostly herbivorous and feeds primarily on grasses, berries, nuts and agricultural crops. They occasionally eat grubs, grasshoppers, snails or other small insects, but are not considered omnivores.

Reproduction & Lifespan
Mating season occurs after hibernation, usually mid-March to late April. The mated pair remains in their den for the entirety of the 32 day gestation period. Young are born in April or May, at which point the male leaves the den. Litters usually produce 2 to 6 young that remain with their mother for only 5 weeks.

Woodchucks live an average of three to four years in the wild and 9 to 14 years in captivity.

Fantastic Fact
Punxsatawney Phil
Woodchucks also go by the name groundhog. In the United States and Canada, they have become famous for they yearly celebration of Groundhog Day, in which they predict the arrival of spring based on their shadow.

 
 
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