Woodchuck Facts – Did You Know that Woodchucks can Climb Trees?

Woodchuck Facts – Did You Know that Woodchucks can Climb Trees?

Woodchuck in a tree

If you look closely at the photo above, you can see a woodchuck perched up in this tree! Woodchucks, also known as groundhogs,  are actually a member of the squirrel family.  With that in mind, it’s not as much of a surprise that they would spend some time in trees. They are the largest sciurid in their range (which covers all of Minnesota, most of the eastern half of the United States, and much of Canada).

Their bodies are actually well suited for digging, so many people often find them in their yards – often wrecking havoc on their gardens. For this reason, groundhogs are often considered pests. They are generally herbivorous, eating vegetables, grasses, and berries, but will also munch on insects and grubs. Woodchucks dig burrows, and use them for sleeping, raising young, as an escape when threatened, and for hibernating.

I often see groundhogs near my own garden, but this photo (taken in 2007) was the first time I had seen one in a tree. This was certainly one of the more unique encounters I have had with Marmota monax.

Random Woodchuck Facts

  • Woodchucks are also called groundhogs, whistle-pigs, and land-beavers
  • Their weight ranges from 5 – 10 pounds
  • Their ears fold down to keep dirt and debris out out of their ear openings while underground.
  • Woodchucks emit a shrill whistle when they are alarmed (giving credence to their common name of whistle-pig!)
  • Woodchucks usually don’t go farther than a few hundred yards from their burrows, and escape there for protection.
  • Groundhogs hibernate through the cold winter months (they are a true hibernator!)
  • In addition to being able to climb and dig, woodchucks can also swim
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