- Adult woodchucks weigh about 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds).
- The woodchuck is a member of a group of large, ground-dwelling squirrels, called marmots.
- Like other marmots, general characteristics for the woodchuck include:
- Robust bodies with broad heads
- Short powerful legs
- Strong flattened and curved claws
- Tails that are about one-quarter the length of the body.
- The dense, woolly fur of the woodchuck is a grizzled dark brown on the upper parts; under parts are reddish-brown.
- The bushy tail is dark brown to black.
- Woodchucks occur in the boreal forest, parkland and foothill natural regions where woodlots are broken by pastures and meadows.
- By clearing tracts of forest, farmers and foresters have provided the woodchuck with good habitat, and its numbers have
increased and expanded into new range.
- Woodchucks eat a variety of green vegetation. They also eat insects, and when found, the young of ground-nesting birds.
- In Alberta, woodchucks are active from March or April until they enter hibernation in late September.
- Although usually a solitary animal, a pair of woodchucks may share the same underground den in summer. Mating occurs soon
after emergence from hibernation in March and April.
- Litters of four to five young are born in May.
- Young emerge from their burrows in late June and are weaned shortly afterwards.
The woodchuck is classified as Secure in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:
Woodchucks may be hunted, but not trapped, without a licence throughout the province, at all times of the year. See details
in the Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My
Wild Alberta website at:
Appropriately enough, the yellow belly of the yellow-bellied marmot distinguishes it from the woodchuck. Also, the range
of the yellow-bellied marmot is further south in Alberta.
Another common name for the woodchuck is groundhog. People have honoured groundhogs with a special date on the calendar,
February 2 — Groundhog Day. Legend has it that if a groundhog should awake from its winter hibernation-sleep on that day
and emerge to see its shadow, there will be six more weeks of harsh winter.
Updated: May 13, 2010