Skip to main content
Select Source:

groundhog

groundhog Another name for the woodchuck (see SCIURIDAE). In the USA, ‘Groundhog Day’ (2 February) is popularly supposed to be the day the groundhog emerges from his hole. If he sees his shadow he considers this an omen of more bad weather and returns to his hole for a further six weeks; if he sees no shadow (the day is cloudy) he assumes spring is arriving and remains above ground.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"groundhog." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"groundhog." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/groundhog

"groundhog." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/groundhog

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

groundhog

groundhog North American term for the woodchuck, a marmot with a heavy body and short legs.
Groundhog Day in the US, 2 February, when the groundhog is said to come out of its hole at the end of hibernation. If the animal sees its shadow—i.e. if the weather is sunny—it is said to portend six weeks more of winter weather.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"groundhog." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"groundhog." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/groundhog

"groundhog." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/groundhog

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

groundhog

ground·hog / ˈgroundˌhäg; -ˌhôg/ • n. another term for woodchuck.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"groundhog." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"groundhog." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/groundhog-1

"groundhog." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/groundhog-1

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

groundhog

groundhog: see woodchuck.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"groundhog." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"groundhog." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/groundhog

"groundhog." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/groundhog

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

groundhog

groundhogagog, befog, blog, bog, clog, cog, dog, flog, fog, frog, grog, hog, Hogg, hotdog, jog, log, nog, prog, slog, smog, snog, sprog, tautog, tog, trog, wog •hangdog • lapdog • seadog • sheepdog •watchdog • bulldog • gundog • firedog •underdog • pettifog • pedagogue •demagogue • synagogue • sandhog •hedgehog • warthog • groundhog •roadhog • backlog • Kellogg • weblog •eclogue •epilogue (US epilog) •prologue (US prolog) • footslog •ideologue •dialogue (US dialog) • duologue •Decalogue •analog, analogue (US analog) •monologue • apologue •catalogue (US catalog) • travelogue •eggnog • leapfrog • bullfrog •Taganrog •golliwog, polliwog •phizog • Herzog

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"groundhog." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"groundhog." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/groundhog-0

"groundhog." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/groundhog-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Groundhog

Groundhog

Resources

The groundhog or woodchuck (Marmota monax ) is a husky, waddling rodent in the squirrel family Sciuridae, order Rodentia. The groundhog is a type of marmot (genus Marmota ), and is also closely related to the ground squirrels and gophers. The natural habitat of the groundhog is forest edges and grasslands, ranging from the eastern United States and Canada through much of the Midwest, to parts of the western states and provinces. However, the groundhog is also a familiar species in agricultural landscapes within its range, occurring along roadsides, fence-rows, pastures, the margins of fields, and even in some suburban habitats.

The groundhog is a rather large marmot, typically weighing about 6.6-13.2 lb (3-6 kg). One captive animal, however, managed to achieve a enormous 37.4 lb (17 kg) just prior to its wintertime hibernation, when these animals are at their heaviest. The fur is red or brown, with black or dark brown feet.

Groundhogs have a plump body, a broad head, and small, erect ears. The tail and legs are short, while the fingers and toes have strong claws, useful for digging. When frightened, groundhogs can run as fast as a person, but they are normally slow, waddling animals, tending to stay close to the safety of their burrows. Groundhogs can climb rather well, and are sometimes seen feeding while perched in the lower parts of trees or shrubs.

Groundhogs are enthusiastic diggers, and they spend much of their time preparing and improving their burrows and dens. Woodchucks dig their burrow complexes in well-drained, sandy-loam soils, generally on the highest ground available. Their sleeping dens are lined with hay-like materials, both for comfort, and to provide insulation during the winter. There are separate chambers for sleeping and defecation.

Groundhogs are social animals, sometimes living in open colonies with as many as tens of animals living in a maze of interconnected burrows. Groundhogs are not very vocal animals, but they will make sharp whistles when a potential predator is noticed. This loud sound is a warning to other animals in the colony.

Groundhogs are herbivorous animals, eating the foliage, stems, roots, and tubers of herbaceous plants, and sometimes the buds, leaves, flowers, and young shoots of woody species. Groundhogs also store food in their dens, especially for consumption during the winter. Groundhogs are very fat in the autumn, just prior to hibernation. If they are living in a colony, groundhogs snuggle in family groups to conserve heat during the winter. They occasionally waken from their deep sleep to feed. However, groundhogs lose weight progressively during their hibernation, and can weigh one-third to one-half less in the springtime than in the autumn.

Groundhogs have a single mating season each year, usually beginning shortly after they emerge from their dens in the spring. After a gestation period of 30-32 days, the female usually gives birth to four or five young, although the size of the litter may vary from one to nine. Born blind and naked, young groundhogs acquire a downy coat after about two weeks. Soon the mother begins to bring soft plant stems and leaves back to the den for them to eat. Young groundhogs follow their mother out of the

burrow after about a month and are weaned about two weeks later.

Groundhogs are sometimes perceived to be pests. They can cause considerable damage by raiding vegetable gardens, and can also consume large quantities of ripe grain and other crops. In addition, the excavations of groundhogs can be hazardous to livestock, who can break a leg if they step unawares into a groundhog hole, or if an underground burrow collapses beneath their weight. For these reasons, groundhogs are sometimes hunted and poisoned. However, groundhogs also provide valuable ecological benefits as prey for a wide range of carnivorous animals, and because these interesting creatures are a pleasing component of the outdoors experience for many people.

A Midwestern American folk myth holds that if a woodchuck comes out of its burrow on February 2, also known as Groundhog Day, and sees its shadow,

KEY TERMS

Hibernation A deep, energy-conserving sleep that some mammals enter while passing the wintertime. In groundhogs, hibernation is characterized by a slowed metabolic rate, and a decrease in the core body temperature.

then the cold wintertime weather will soon be over. However, if that day is cloudy and the woodchuck does not see its shadow, it goes back into hibernation, and the winter weather will last a while longer. Of course, there is no basis in natural history to this belief. Nor, contrary to common wisdom, do wood-chucks chuck wood.

See also Marmots; Rodents.

Resources

BOOKS

Banfield, A W.F. The Mammals of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974.

Barash, D. Marmots: Social Behavior and Ecology. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1989.

Nowak, Ronald M. Walkers Mammals of the World. 6th ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Bill Freedman

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Groundhog." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Groundhog." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/groundhog

"Groundhog." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/groundhog

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Groundhog

Groundhog

The groundhog or woodchuck (Marmota monax) is a husky, waddling rodent in the squirrel family Sciuridae, order Rodentia. The groundhog is a type of marmot (genus Marmota), and is also closely related to the ground squirrels and gophers . The natural habitat of the groundhog is forest edges and grasslands , ranging from the eastern United States and Canada through much of the Midwest, to parts of the western states and provinces. However, the groundhog is also a familiar species in agricultural landscapes within its range, occurring along roadsides, fence-rows, pastures, the margins of fields, and even in some suburban habitats.

The groundhog is a rather large marmot, typically weighing about 6.6-13.2 lb (3-6 kg). One captive animal , however, managed to achieve a enormous 37.4 lb (17 kg) just prior to its wintertime hibernation , when these animals are at their heaviest. The fur is red or brown, with black or dark brown feet.

Groundhogs have a plump body, a broad head, and small, erect ears. The tail and legs are short, while the fingers and toes have strong claws, useful for digging. When frightened, groundhogs can run as fast as a person, but they are normally slow, waddling animals, tending to stay close to the safety of their burrows. Groundhogs can climb rather well, and are sometimes seen feeding while perched in the lower parts of trees or shrubs.

Groundhogs are enthusiastic diggers, and they spend much of their time preparing and improving their burrows and dens. Woodchucks dig their burrow complexes in well-drained, sandy-loam soils, generally on the highest ground available. Their sleeping dens are lined with hay-like materials, both for comfort, and to provide insulation during the winter. There are separate chambers for sleeping and defecation.

Groundhogs are social animals, sometimes living in open colonies with as many as tens of animals living in a maze of interconnected burrows. Groundhogs are not very vocal animals, but they will make sharp whistles when a potential predator is noticed. This loud sound is a warning to other animals in the colony.

Groundhogs are herbivorous animals, eating the foliage, stems, roots, and tubers of herbaceous plants, and sometimes the buds, leaves, flowers, and young shoots of woody species. Groundhogs also store food in their dens, especially for consumption during the winter. Groundhogs are very fat in the autumn, just prior to hibernation. If they are living in a colony, groundhogs snuggle in family groups to conserve heat during the winter. They occasionally waken from their deep sleep to feed. However, groundhogs lose weight progressively during their hibernation, and can weigh one-third to one-half less in the springtime than in the autumn.

Groundhogs have a single mating season each year, usually beginning shortly after they emerge from their dens in the spring. After a gestation period of 30-32 days, the female usually gives birth to four or five young, although the size of the litter may vary from one to nine. Born blind and naked, young groundhogs acquire a downy coat after about two weeks. Soon the mother begins to bring soft plant stems and leaves back to the den for them to eat. Young groundhogs follow their mother out of the burrow after about a month and are weaned about two weeks later.

Groundhogs are sometimes perceived to be pests . They can cause considerable damage by raiding vegetable gardens, and can also consume large quantities of ripe grain and other crops . In addition, the excavations of groundhogs can be hazardous to livestock , who can break a leg if they step unawares into a groundhog hole, or if an underground burrow collapses beneath their
weight. For these reasons, groundhogs are sometimes hunted and poisoned. However, groundhogs also provide valuable ecological benefits as prey for a wide range of carnivorous animals, and because these interesting creatures are a pleasing component of the outdoors experience for many people.

A Midwestern American folk myth holds that if a woodchuck comes out of its burrow on February 2, also known as Groundhog Day, and sees its shadow, then the cold wintertime weather will soon be over. However, if that day is cloudy and the woodchuck does not see its shadow, it goes back into hibernation, and the winter weather will last a while longer. Of course, there is no basis in natural history to this belief. Nor, contrary to common wisdom, do woodchucks chuck wood .


See also Marmots; Rodents.

Resources

books

Banfield, A.W.F. The Mammals of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974.

Barash, D. Marmots. Social Behavior and Ecology. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989.


Bill Freedman

KEY TERMS

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Hibernation

—A deep, energy-conserving sleep that some mammals enter while passing the wintertime. In groundhogs, hibernation is characterized by a slowed metabolic rate, and a decrease in the core body temperature.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Groundhog." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Groundhog." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 19, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/groundhog-0

"Groundhog." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Retrieved November 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/groundhog-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.