Information about: Woodchuck

Index | Woodchuck

Note: Information is dated. Do not rely on it.

Woodchuck. A hairy-tailed rodent, Arctomys monax, allied to the squirrels and also known as the American marmot. It inhabits North America from the Atlantic seaboard to Nebraska and from Hudson bay to South Carolina. A full-grown specimen is about 18 inches long, exclusive of the tail, and weighs from 10 to 15 pounds. The head is broad and flat, the legs short, and the body thick and "chunky". The prevailing color is a grizzly, reddish-gray, although individuals are frequently nearly black, while others show a tendency to albinism. The fur has no commercial value. The woodchucks dig holes, preferably in gravelly hillsides in which they live and in which the young are born. The bottom of the burrow is usually below the frost line and may extend from 15 to 20 feet underground, sometimes having several connecting passages. In summer they frequent meadows and cultivated fields when they do much damage to the crops upon which they feed and become very fat. At the approach of winter they retire to their burrows, preferring those in the woods, where they remain in a comatose state until spring. During hibernation the feeble activities of the body are probably supported by the slow oxidation of the fat stored in summer, as they emerge in the spring lean and emaciated. In eastern New York the hibernation extends from Oetober 15 to January, although weather conditions may prolong the period several weeks. The young are from four to six in number and are probably born in April. Although eatable, the flesh has a strong flavor and is not regarded as of much value. On account of its depredations on growing crops, the woodchuck is considered a nuisance by farmers who wage constant war upon it with dog and gun.