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The groundhog is one of the biggest pest animals that can be found in the United States, and it is found in areas across the country, from Alaska in the north down to Georgia in the south, and also in many areas of Canada too. The groundhog is also known as the woodchuck and the whistlepig, and is a distant relation of the marmot species.
The groundhog has a dense fur that is made from two distinct coats, with the gray undercoat covered by longer brown and red coat. With its thick snout and the small ears, the groundhog is a stocky animal all around, and it has a muscular appearance that is different to many other animals from the same animal family.
The groundhog is quite large as it can grow to between sixteen and thirty inches in length, and this includes a tail that can be up to six inches long. The animal can weigh between two and four kilos, and as it is a rodent from the Sciuridae family, it also has a curved spine that help it with the digging.
Groundhogs usually breed in late March and April, giving birth around thirty days later, with groundhogs able to give birth from their second year onwards. The female raises the young alone, and they are encouraged to find their own dens from the age of six weeks. The groundhog will usually live for two to three years, with the oldest living up to six years.
The groundhog may be found in a large portion of the country, but in terms of its habitat the groundhog prefers lowland areas, and it will often look to live in areas of grassland and on the fringes of woodland, and will usually dig large burrows with several tunnels.
The largest proportion of the groundhog's diet is made up of vegetable matter, with berries, grass and other foliage making up the bulk of its diet. The groundhog can also eat insects, grubs and other small animals, and in some cases may also eat nuts.
Despite the stocky body, groundhogs are also competent swimmers and can also climb, while their habit for communicating through a whistling sound helped to give it the 'whistlepig' nickname. When frightened, the groundhog will stand on its hind legs, to give it a good view of the surrounding area.
For more information about Groundhogs, you may want to read this guide that I wrote:
How to get rid of groundhogs
- my main groundhog removal information page.