The Woodchuck (Marmota Monax) is also commonly called "groundhog", and in some areas, "whistle pig". Its genus, Marmota, includes a number of species of rodent, collectively known as Marmots. Marmots are technically classified as a type of squirrel, but the woodchuck's size, habitat and behaviors differ significantly from what we commonly know as "squirrels".
Woodchucks are burrowing animals found extensively throughout the United States and Canada. Their range extends as far north as Alaska, and southeast into Alabama. Woodchucks typically grow to 17-26 inches (40-65 cm) long, including a relatively short (five-inch / 15 cm) tail. Woodchucks are stocky-bodied, and adults average 4.5 to 9 pounds (2 to 4 kg).
Woodchucks prefer open areas and forest edges for their habitat, and dig extensive burrows. They are among the few mammals that hibernate in the winter, digging a deeper hibernation burrow in more wooded or brushy areas. The depth of these burrows keeps them below the frost line, ensuring that the temperature inside the hibernation chamber does not drop below freezing.
One of the woodchuck's most distinctive behaviors is its habit of standing upright on its hind legs to watch for danger. If a threat is identified, woodchucks will let out a high-pitched, whistling call to warn the rest of the burrow. This is why they are known as "whistle pigs" in some areas.
Woodchucks are primarily herbivores, and their diet consists mainly of wild grasses and vegetation, with the addition of berries and agricultural crops if available. It is this willingness to eat cultivated crops and garden plants, as well as the undermining effect of its burrows, that have made the woodchuck quite unpopular among farmers and gardeners.