Depending on where you live, you might not see many groundhogs aside from the one in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania who seems to appear each February 2nd. However, this animal—marmot monax, in binominal terms—is actually common throughout lowland areas of North America, in particular the northeastern United States and Canada.
A typical full-grown groundhog, sometimes called a woodchuck, weighs between four and nine pounds and measures between 16 and 26 inches in length, nose to tail. In areas rich in alfalfa and with few natural predators, groundhogs can grow approximately six inches more in length, but also weigh up to 31 pounds! A groundhog’s coat is comprised of two layers: a gray undercoat, plus a longer outer coat of guard hairs which gives the animal the appearance of being flecked with frost.
Most groundhogs live about three years in the wild, but can survive up to six years on average. They will mature into multi-talented creatures, capable of climbing trees, swimming, and burrowing underground. The groundhog is known to stand alert, motionless, watching for predators. They use a high-pitched whistling noise (earning the common moniker “whistle-pig”) to alert the colony if danger is spotted.
Groundhogs are primarily herbivorous, subsisting on wild grass and berries. They can be aggressive toward people as a matter of self-defense, and are inclined to feast on human-grown gardens and crops. The groundhog also hibernates during the winter, one of few species to enter into true hibernation, usually in a specific burrow for this very purpose. To learn more about humane animal removal in Raleigh, please visit this website.