Sounds That Groundhogs Make (And What They Mean)

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Published on November 29, 2021
Last Updated on October 14, 2023

All creatures communicate and have their own unique language. While humans use words, other animals, such as groundhogs, communicate using sounds, body language, and chemical signals.

Groundhogs are rodents native to North America. They are primarily found in wooded areas with plenty of vegetation where there is lots to eat as part of their herbivore diet.

Who do groundhogs talk to when they make sounds, and what sorts of things do they have to say? Read on to learn more!

Who Do Groundhogs Talk To?

If you’ve heard that groundhogs are solitary animals, you’ve heard right. Groundhogs mainly live alone in a burrow for most of the year.

If that is the case, who do they talk to?

Interestingly, despite needing their personal space, groundhogs work to protect and warn each other of impending threats. Therefore, they tend to live near others of their kind.

The one time of the year they actively seek out other groundhogs but also become more territorial is during mating season. They come together in groups of one male and two to three females and stay away from other families.

Overview of Groundhog Sounds

Grounds grunt, whistle, hiss, chatter their teeth, squeal, bark, and whine.

These sounds can’t tell you if a groundhog is male or female: both genders make the same vocalizations.

What they can tell you is what the groundhog is feeling and, to a certain extent, their age. 

It isn’t easy to provide one-to-one translations of each sound since groundhogs often combine sounds. However, here are the most common groundhog sounds and what they usually mean.

Chirping

Translation: Attention, please!

Chirping is the groundhog’s main form of communication. They use chirping to communicate their basic needs and get the attention of groundhogs near them. 

Whistling

Translation: Warning, danger nearby!

Whistling is the most common defensive sound of groundhogs. They whistle to tell their fellow colony members of a nearby danger, whether it be an approaching predator or some severe weather.

The frequent whistling of groundhogs gave them their nickname, “whistle pig.” 

Usually, the danger that inspires whistling is severe enough to signal the colony to evacuate the area. Groundhogs may also shriek and squeal if they feel scared.

Watch this video for an example of a groundhog whistling.

Teeth Chattering

Translation: Stay away! Or I’m scared.

Groundhogs are known to make warning calls to other animals before attacking them.

One of the groundhog’s best warning calls is by chattering its teeth. Chattering teeth is the groundhog’s best effort at intimidating an approaching predator by flashing its sharp teeth.

However, teeth chatter is also a noise made when groundhogs are frightened. 

The difference is that a scared teeth chatter is passive and uncontrollable, while the intimidating teeth chatter is aggressive and intentional on the part of the woodchuck. 

Growl

Translation: Really, stay away!

Groundhogs can growl when angry or trying to intimidate other animals, should teeth chattering not work. 

Their growl sounds like a grumbled warble, which is very scary to specific animals. These growls are not similar to the growls heard from species like foxes or dogs. Instead, they are warbles that resemble smaller, more agile animals. 

Shrill

Translation: This is your last warning to stay away!

If the approaching threat still won’t turn back or simply appears extremely large to the groundhog, they release their loud, high-pitched, ear-piercing shrill.

Typically, even if the predator isn’t frightened enough to leave the woodchuck alone, it will often work well enough to distract the threat enough for the groundhog to run away.

Hissing

Translation: It’s time to fight!

All fighting begins with the groundhog’s signature whistle, which expresses danger to any nearby groundhogs. 

Once the groundhog begins fighting other groundhogs, predators, or animals, they most commonly release a hissing sound. They may also show their anger by emitting a warbling sound with a “chuck-chuck” and then barking or squealing. 

Squealing

Translation: Mommy, I’m hungry or need help.

As with all wild animals, groundhogs will not call attention to themselves through loud noises unless necessary. Silence is one way they keep themselves alive.

However, groundhogs may scream or squeal if hurt, scared, in danger, or in a fight. It can also be a sign of a surprise, such as an unpredicted attack on the groundhog.

Hear all their fighting sounds in this one video.

Screaming

Translation: I’m hurt.

Screaming is a sign that the groundhog is in physical pain. 

Aside from reacting to the shock of injury, the scream is also the woodchuck’s efforts to call out for help and signal their nearby colony there is danger close by. 

Grunting 

Translation: I’m happy and excited!

Groundhogs grunt when they are happy or excited about something. Typically, this noise is made when the groundhog is eating, socializing, or sunbathing. 

The grunting noise is a repetitive chortle that resembles human laughter. The noise is created by breathing quickly in and out of its nose because of happiness. The noise is relatively high and is often done in groups.

Groundhogs commonly grunt as they greet each other with special Eskimo kisses. Their special kisses involve rubbing their nose and mouth affectionately. You can hear their gentle and affectionate grunting as they do this.

Barks

Translation: Well, hello there, how YOU doin’?

Barks are typically aggressive sounds.

However, if a male groundhog’s barks, growls, and grunts are accompanied by other behaviors such as face licking and nuzzling, they may be trying to attract a female.

High-Pitched Whining

Translation: Mommy, I’m hungry or need help.

Baby groundhogs typically make high-pitched whines and squeals.

Like human babies, squeals from groundhog pups can mean anything from being hungry to feeling scared and wanting to be close to their parents.

However, they can also simply explore the environment outside their den and use squeals to navigate.

The Groundhog’s Silent Nights

Groundhogs love to converse with other members of their groundhog group by using chirps, grunts, and all the different sounds discussed thus far.

However, aside from defensive noises and essential communication, the groundhog generally prefers to remain quiet to avoid attracting attention. 

They become even quieter at night to avoid alerting large, nocturnal predators in their area.  

Staying silent is easy as these diurnal rodents sleep the nights away in their underground burrows. Should they need to move through the night, though, they do so quietly and stealthily. 

Are Groundhogs Afraid Of Some Noises?

Groundhogs have very sharp hearing and are, therefore, sensitive to sounds. Generally, any bursts of sound or sudden noise will frighten the small mammal.

In particular, though, high-pitched noises irritate the animal’s fragile ears. This fact causes many homeowners who consider groundhogs as pests to install ultrasonic repellents to keep them away.

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  • Bernice Go
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    Bernice Go is a violinist and orchestra manager by profession but a writer by hobby. She enjoys writing about various topics, from music to animals to self-development. When she isn’t playing the violin or writing, she loves reading, traveling, playing video games, and savoring a good cup of coffee.

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