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woodchuck (Groundhog)

Fact File

Scientific Name: Marmota monax monax

Classification: Mammalia, Order Rodentia, Family Sciuridae

Identifying Characteristics

This is a large heavy-bodied rodent with a total length from 20 to 27 inches and a weight from 5 to 10 pounds. It has a short head, and legs, and short, well-haired ears. They have grizzled or grayish brown fur above, the belly is paler, and the feet and legs are dark brown to black. They mate around March just after emerging from hibernation and a litter of 4-5 young are born in April. They have extensive burrows with a characteristic mound of fresh dirt at the main entrance. They are up to 4-5 feet deep and 14-30 feet in length and several are used at different times. Hibernating dens are in more woody areas, and summer dens are in fields or grassland. They are true hibernators and feed to fatness in the summer. They hibernate from October-February. The longevity of this species is 4-5 years.


The woodchuck is present everywhere in Virginia except the eastern shore and the extreme southeastern corner of the state. This species prefers open woods, brushy areas, and fields, but are occasionally found in dense timber stands as individuals. They use forest edges, meadow grasslands, blowdowns or other opening in a forest. They usually build their systems on dry well drained slopes.

Last updated: August 18, 2023

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