Woodchuck / Groundhog
Woodchucks are not large, but they are powerful tunnelers. Their husky bodies measure 16-20 inches long, excluding their dark, bushy tails. They weigh 5 to 15 pounds; and their coarse, brown fur is sprinkled with gray. Strong and active, woodchucks can swim, climb trees, and dig amazing burrow systems, some as deep as 5 feet and as long as 30 feet, with multiple tunnels and chambers. Woodchucks hibernate from October through February, so they can eat heavily during the fall, sometimes doubling their weight. During hibernation, their body temperature drops 40 degrees and their hearts beat only 4 to 10 times per minute. When they awaken, they immediately begin eating, and the mating season commences as soon as they have regained their strength. After a 30-dat gestation period, a litter of 4 to 6 young is born and then nursed for 6 weeks. By late summer, young woodchucks are ready to live on their own.