Woodchuck

Photo by Bob Gress

Common Name: Woodchuck

Scientific Name: Marmota monax

Total Length: 22-26 inches

Tail Length: 4-8 inches

Weight: 5-12 pounds

 

Comments: Woodchucks, sometimes called "groundhogs," are the largest member of the squirrel family in Kansas. Their gnawing activity wears down their constantly-growing incisor teeth. They live in underground dens, where they hibernate in winter. While hibernating, their heart rate, breathing, and body temperatures are greatly reduced for 4-6 months. They may lose up to half their body weight during this period. In spring, females produce 3-4 kits. Longevity is up to 6 years.

Distribution: Woodchucks are found throughout the eastern half of the United States and from southeast Canada into Alaska. In Kansas, they are found in shrublands, woodlands and uncultivated croplands.

Food: Woodchucks feed primarily on wild forbs, but also eat alfalfa, grain crops, bark, and buds.