Groundhog in his natural habitat with clvoer.

12 Fun Facts About Groundhogs

According to folklore, if a groundhog sees his shadow when emerging from his den today, it means six more weeks of winter. The groundhog is also known as woodchuck, whistlepig, and several other names.

Let’s find out more about these cute critters.

Punxsutawney Phil Says We're In for an Early Spring

Groundhog Day Sign in Puxsutawney Pennsylvania explains the origins of the groundhog predicting the weather.
Image Credit:
Mark-Van-Scyoc/Shutterstock.

Today, the name Punxsutawney Phil may be what you hear, as Groundhog Day has been celebrated for over a hundred years in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, by checking to see if the groundhog Puxatawny Phil sees his shadow. For 2024, the prediction was: no shadow! an early spring!

The Woodchuck Does Not Chuck Wood

groundhog sitting in front of it's den in summer.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

The name ‘woodchuck' doesn't relate to wood or chucking; it originates from an Algonquian name for the animal, ‘wuchak'.

They’re Winter Slumber Experts 

Two marmots peeking out of the grass.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Groundhogs are true hibernators, undergoing significant physiological changes like body temperature drops and slowed breathing during hibernation.

They Start Preparing for Hibernation in June

Chubby groundhog on grass.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Groundhogs eat a LOT to prepare for winter. In June, their metabolism slows, and they may double their weight during autumn as they prepare for hibernation.

Making a Hibernation Nest

Groundhog Emerging from a Snow Covered Den.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Groundhogs often build a separate winter burrow for hibernation,  creating a hibernation chamber lined with leaves and grass. This chamber is usually dug in a brushy area two to three feet underground, keeping it below the frost line and above freezing all winter.

Groundhogs Can Eat More Than a Pound of Vegetation a Day

Alpine Ground hogs very close to camera lense.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Adult Groundhogs are, indeed, ‘hogs’ of a kind – vegetable hogs. Both their love of vegetables and their burrowing habits can make them major pests around a garden.

Whistling Alarm System

Marmot whistling to give alarm.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Groundhogs use a high-pitched whistle to warn their colony of danger, earning them the name “whistle-pig.”

They Eat Their Water

groundhog eating a bit of grass.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Groundhogs don’t typically drink water, obtaining moisture instead from their plant-based diet.

Surprisingly Agile

Groundhog in a tree.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Despite their chunky appearance, Groundhogs are capable swimmers and climbers. While they’d rather retreat into their burrow when they spot a predator, they can also climb trees to escape.

Super Fast Teeth Growth

A Groundhog shows front teeth.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Groundhogs’ teeth Grow about 1/16th of an inch (1.5 mm) each week, but constant usage wears them down at the same rate, maintaining a balance.

The Most Solitary Type of Marmot

Marmot standing on hind legs.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Groundhogs are the least social of the marmot species. They may, however, be less solitary depending on their environment and will work cooperatively with other groundhogs. 

Lifespan Nearly Doubles in Captivity

Big groundhog in a zoo behind a fence.
Photo credit: Depositphots

In the wild, groundhogs can live up to six years. In captivity, they can live up to around 14 years. Zookeepers state that their aggressive nature can be problematic for raising them in captivity.

Natural Engineers 

Diving down a burrow.
Photo credit: Depositphotos

Groundhog burrowing activities significantly influence soil health and ecosystem dynamics. They play a vital role in maintaining healthy soil in woodlands and plains.

Their burrows provide homes for other animals, like skunks and rabbits, indirectly benefiting ecosystems.

For more in-depth details, you can visit the Wikipedia page on Groundhogs.

Want more interesting animal info?

Two crows resting on log.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

How about finding out the difference between ravens and crows? You can learn fun facts about these clever birds here.

Author: Alissa Zorn

Title: Trauma-Informed Coach

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Alissa Zorn is the founder of OverthoughtThis.com. She's a trauma-informed coach and cartoonist passionate about helping people overcome perfectionism and shame to build authentic, joyful lives. Alissa has been featured on the Good Men Project, Wealth of Geeks, Motherly, MSN.com and more.