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What Do Groundhogs Look Like?


Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks in some regions, are medium-sized rodents that have distinct physical characteristics. Typically, they measure about 16 to 26 inches (40 to 66 centimeters) in length and weigh around 4 to 9 pounds (1.8 to 4 kilograms). Here is what groundhogs look like:

Groundhogs have a stocky and compact body with short legs. Their fur is dense and coarse, and it comes in various shades of brown, ranging from light brown to dark brown or even grayish-brown. The fur is peppered with a mixture of guard hairs and underfur, providing insulation and protection.

Their head is relatively large, and they have small, round ears that are often covered with fur. Their eyes are located on the sides of their head and are adapted for good peripheral vision. Groundhogs have a keen sense of smell and sharp, chisel-like incisor teeth that continue to grow throughout their lives.

One of the most recognizable features of groundhogs is their short, bushy tail, which is covered in fur and usually measures about 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 centimeters) in length. This tail is often held erect when they are alarmed or excited.

Groundhogs are known for their strong and sturdy limbs. They have sharp claws on their feet, which they use for digging burrows, their primary mode of shelter. These burrows can be quite extensive and have multiple entrances.

Groundhog Size

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks in some regions, are medium-sized rodents that typically measure about 16 to 26 inches (40 to 66 centimeters) in length, including their tail. Their size can vary slightly based on factors such as age, sex, and geographic location. Here is a breakdown of their size:

  • Length: The body of a groundhog itself, excluding the tail, is usually around 16 to 20 inches (40 to 50 centimeters) long. When you include the tail, which is relatively short, measuring about 4 to 7 inches (10 to 18 centimeters), its total length ranges from 20 to 26 inches (50 to 66 centimeters).
  • Weight: Groundhogs are stocky and have a robust build. Their weight can vary depending on factors like diet and age. On average, adult groundhogs typically weigh between 4 to 9 pounds (1.8 to 4 kilograms). However, some individuals may exceed or fall below this range.
  • Sexual Dimorphism: In most cases, male groundhogs tend to be slightly larger and heavier than females of the same age. This difference in size is more noticeable during the breeding season when males may bulk up in preparation for mating.

Groundhogs are known for their distinctive appearance, which includes their compact body, short legs, round head, and bushy tail. Their size and physical features are well-suited for their burrowing lifestyle, as they use their powerful limbs and sharp claws for digging extensive burrows. These burrows serve as their shelter and protect from predators and harsh weather conditions. Groundhogs are primarily herbivorous, feeding on a variety of plants and vegetation, and their size allows them to store fat reserves to sustain them through hibernation during the winter months.

Groundhog Colors

Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks in some regions, exhibit a range of colors in their fur, which can vary depending on factors such as their age, geographic location, and individual genetics. Generally, groundhogs are known for having fur that falls within various shades of brown and gray. Here is a description of the colors often observed in groundhogs' fur:

  • Brown Tones: The most common coloration for groundhogs is various shades of brown. Their fur can range from light brown to dark brown, and it may include intermediate shades of brown in between. The specific shade of brown can vary from one individual to another.
  • Grayish-Brown: In addition to brown, some groundhogs may have fur that appears grayish-brown. This grayish hue can be more pronounced in certain populations or during specific seasons.
  • Mottled Appearance: Groundhogs often have a mottled or speckled appearance due to the presence of both guard hairs and underfur. These guard hairs are typically darker than the underlying fur, giving the coat a textured and somewhat speckled look.
  • Fur Variation: It's important to note that groundhogs can exhibit variation in fur color within a single population. Some individuals may have fur that leans more towards the brown end of the spectrum, while others may appear grayer. This variation can be influenced by genetics and local environmental factors.
  • Seasonal Changes: Groundhogs may also experience seasonal changes in fur color. For example, their fur can appear darker and more vibrant during the warmer months and may lighten somewhat during the winter.

The coloration of groundhogs' fur serves as camouflage, helping them blend into their natural habitat, which often consists of grassy fields, meadows, and woodland edges. Their fur color, combined with their other physical adaptations, allows them to remain well-camouflaged while foraging for vegetation and keeping an eye out for potential predators.

What Do Groundhog Holes Look Like?

Groundhog holes, also known as burrow entrances or burrow openings, have distinct characteristics that make them recognizable. Groundhogs are known for their extensive burrow systems, which serve as their shelters and provide protection from predators and adverse weather conditions. Here is what groundhog holes look like:

  • Size and Shape: Groundhog holes are typically round or slightly oval. The size of the entrance hole can vary but is generally around 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 centimeters) in diameter. However, they can be larger or smaller depending on the age and size of the groundhog.
  • Mound of Dirt: One of the most distinctive features of groundhog burrows is the mound of loose dirt or soil that often surrounds the entrance hole. Groundhogs are prolific diggers, and as they excavate their burrows, they push the soil out, creating a mound. This mound can be quite noticeable, especially if the burrow has been in use for an extended period.
  • Multiple Entrances: Groundhogs are known for having multiple entrances to their burrows, which can help them escape from predators and provide ventilation. These secondary entrances are typically smaller and less conspicuous than the main entrance but may still have mounds of soil nearby.
  • Location: Groundhog holes are usually found in open areas such as fields, meadows, pastures, and the edges of woodlands. They prefer well-drained soil and often choose elevated spots for their burrows, which provide a better vantage point to spot potential threats.
  • Cleanliness: Groundhogs are known to keep the areas around their burrow entrances relatively clean. They will often clear away debris and maintain a well-defined entrance.
  • Depth: Groundhog burrows can extend several feet underground, with tunnels leading to different chambers for sleeping, raising young, and hibernating. The depth of the burrow can vary depending on the soil type and local conditions.
  • Safety Features: Inside the burrow, groundhogs may construct safety features such as escape tunnels that lead to different exit points. These additional tunnels provide an escape route if the main entrance is blocked by a predator.
  • Seasonal Use: Groundhogs are known for hibernating during the winter months, and they will seal off their burrow entrances during this time. In the spring, they reopen these entrances as they emerge from hibernation.

Groundhog holes are a common sight in areas where groundhogs are found, and they play a crucial role in the life of these animals. While they are interesting to observe, it's important to respect their burrows and avoid disturbing them, as groundhogs are important members of their ecosystems and can be beneficial for controlling vegetation in certain areas.