Groundhogs, the common rodents also known as woodchucks, are closely related to squirrels. You can find these animals all over North America, so you’ve likely encountered them at some point. They can grow to be quite large too.
These animals typically weigh between five and ten pounds and are about 16 to 20 inches long. The tail is usually at least four inches in length. Some groundhogs can be 20 inches long and weigh up to 13 pounds.
We look to these animals in early February for groundhog’s day. They’re pretty large for rodents, so you’ll want to learn more about their size.
How Big Is A Fully Grown Groundhog?
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Fully grown groundhogs can be very big. You can expect them to be up to 20 inches long. Many have tails between four and seven inches long- if they have a large, bushy tail, the groundhog can appear much larger than it actually is. Most adults are about 16 inches long.
Adult groundhogs have an average height between 8.7 – 11 inches (22-28 cm) when on the ground normally.
The more the animal eats while growing, the larger it can become. A groundhog that finds a reliable, consistent food source, including leaves, lettuce, clovers, and fruit, can grow to sizes larger than those listed here.
Overall, groundhogs are very large for rodents, considering they’re most closely related to squirrels- which are much smaller than them! On the other hand, they’re not quite as big as a beaver, which is the biggest rodent in North America.
How Much Do Groundhogs Weigh?
Most adult groundhogs weigh about 8.6 pounds, on average. However, they can reach 13 pounds. At this weight, the groundhog weighs about twice as much as the average newborn human baby. The smallest groundhogs may only weigh five pounds.
Groundhogs do hibernate from late autumn until very early spring. They usually wake up and become active while it’s still cold outside. Since they hibernate for about three months, groundhogs must put on weight to survive the winter.
So, these animals will tend to be much heavier in the late fall, just before they start hibernating. They eat more food right before going to sleep, increasing their size. Many groundhogs will even store food in their burrows to help them make it through the coldest parts of the year.
Like many other animals, groundhogs lose much of their weight during hibernation. Most will lose a fourth of their body weight and need to eat more when they wake up for the rest of the season.
Is There A Record Size For Groundhogs?
There is no current record for the largest groundhog. However, many people report seeing and capturing very large groundhogs each year.
These large groundhogs weigh between 20 and 30 pounds- much larger than most other animals in this species. Often, we see these larger groundhogs right before they need to hibernate for the season.
In short, there’s no record for groundhog sizes. Although, you can still find groundhogs vastly outside their average length and weight range.
Are Male Groundhogs Bigger Than Female Groundhogs?
Male and female groundhogs look very similar. However, the male groundhogs are slightly larger than the females. Outside of the size differences, both have the same appearance.
Groundhogs tend to live in social groups that consist of two adult females and one adult male. Their babies follow the parents around until the next litter of groundhogs arrives. Then, the previous litter disperses and forms their own social groups with groundhogs from other families during mating seasons.
The female social group is friendly, with very rare aggression between them. The male adult doesn’t live with them in the burrow but will visit each day until the offspring reach about a year old.
To summarize, there are not many visual differences between male and female groundhogs outside of their sizes.
How Big Are New-Born Groundhogs?
New-born groundhogs are very small. They’re just a few ounces when they are first born, are also only four inches long, and are completely hairless. The babies can’t see or hear and stay with their mother until they reach two or three months of age.
Groundhogs don’t stay pregnant for very long- they have their babies only after a month! Because of this, the babies are extremely helpless until they become older. They grow very quickly and live with their mother for a few months.
We often refer to groundhog babies as pups, kits, or chucklings, which references their other name of woodchuck. New-born groundhogs are tiny and usually weigh only one or two ounces.
How Big Are Groundhogs When They Leave Their Parents?
Baby groundhogs stay with their parents until they fully wean off their mother’s milk, which takes about 44 days. These groundhogs are still growing somewhat, but you can expect them to be at least five pounds when they leave the nest. They’ll keep growing until they become a full adult.
Even at this stage, you can expect the female groundhogs to be slightly smaller than the males. The males will have a larger frame, weigh more, and have a larger facial structure. Although, you won’t be able to notice the difference until they’ve fully grown into adults.
In short, groundhogs aren’t very big until they leave their parents. They’ll be much closer to their expected size, although they’ll still have plenty of room to grow.
How Big Do Groundhogs Make Their Nest?
Groundhogs need to make burrows that can fit them comfortably, so larger ones will make larger nests. Most groundhogs dig burrows that are 20 feet (6 m) wide and at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) deep under the earth’s surface. These burrows will have multiple entrances.
It’s not uncommon for groundhogs to have two separate burrows. Many will burrow in grassy fields during the warm months, then burrow in the woods in the winter. These hibernation burrows only have one entrance, and the animals line them with grass for warmth.
Adults only live together during mating season and won’t stray far from their homes. Most will only venture 50 to 150 feet (15 to 30 m) from their burrow while the sun’s still up.