Are Groundhogs Nocturnal? When Are They Most Active? (Night, Day, Weather, Seasons)

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Published on January 5, 2022
Last Updated on October 14, 2023

The early bird gets the worm – and so does the early groundhog! 

Groundhogs (Marmota monax), also known as woodchucks, are the largest member of the squirrel family and are categorized as rodents.

The species is most active during the day and briefly emerges again at dusk before retiring into its burrow at night. They’re not nocturnal, but diurnal. People also only spot groundhogs from spring to fall and never in winter.  

What does the groundhog do when awake, why does it disappear some months, and does it have weather preferences too? Floofmania tells you everything you need to know about groundhogs’ active periods!

Closeup of a groundhog with its mouth open.

When Are Groundhogs Most Active?

Groundhogs have a reputation for being lazy and sleeping all the time, but that’s not (entirely) true – maybe you just don’t know when to look out for them.

What Time Of Day Are Groundhogs Most Active?

Groundhogs are active in the early morning and early evening. During midday, it mainly lounges. The rodent prefers being active during dawn and dusk because of the lower temperature, which keeps them from overheating.

The species spends its time foraging for food, digging burrows, mating, feeding, and just wandering around. They will then retire to their burrows in the evening before their main predators come out to hunt.

What Seasons Are Groundhogs Most Active?

Groundhogs become the most active during springtime when they emerge from their long winter hibernation. 

Like most of us getting out of bed in the morning, the groundhog also slowly emerges at the arrival of spring, with males usually emerging from their burrows first. By midseason, the whole groundhog population can be seen actively going about their businesses each morning.

The species will continue to be out and about until the fall season when it will begin preparing for its next hibernation cycle.

Groundhog eating something while sitting on green grass, sorrounded by fallen leaves.

Do Groundhogs Come Out At Night?

It is a myth that groundhogs come out at night. The groundhog is temporarily active at dusk before returning to its den for the night when it typically settles down to sleep.

Emerging from their dens at night is dangerous. Groundhogs could come into confrontation with some of their top predators like large canines, felines, birds, and more.

However, they may become active during some night hours to complete den maintenance, feed, evade a predator digging up its den, or move to a different shelter because of heavy rains.

Mother groundhogs usually have to get up to feed their newborn or young pups throughout the night, at least until they learn from their mother that they should only eat during the day.

Can Groundhogs See In The Dark?

The groundhog may dig at night or emerge from its den in the early hours, but that does not mean the animal can see at night. 

This species has poor night vision and struggles to see clearly at night, leaving them vulnerable to many predators. 

They have an excellent daytime vision that perfectly captures the early morning light, though!

Groundhog sitting on a rock surface eating something that it holds up to its mouth with its hands.

What Kind Of Weather Do Groundhogs Prefer?

Groundhogs strongly prefer warm temperatures and dry climates and strongly dislike rain. Hence, their preference for springtime.

Groundhogs would always wish for bright and sunny weather if they could choose. Aside from the comfortable temperature, the groundhogs will be able to see clearly in the sunlight and will be able to spot food and potential mates easily.

They do not like extremely hot weather, though. When their small bodies feel too warm for comfort, groundhogs do their best to cool down by staying in the water. 

Do Groundhogs Hide When It’s Raining?

A groundhog will avoid coming out if it is storming or raining outside. An environment like this is dangerous because medium and large predators like the fox may lurk while it rains.

This does not mean the groundhog is inactive while waiting for the sun to come back, though: They spend this time expanding their tunnels or maybe venturing out a little under cover of leaves or fallen tree branches.

Sometimes, especially during intense storms, rainwater leaks into groundhogs’ burrows. When this happens, groundhogs are forced to evacuate and turn to nature for shelter instead to hide under fallen logs or in small cave structures.

These shelters keep them safe from the rain and hide them from predators as their traditional homes do.

Groundhogs also become more vocal in stormy environments because their calls become stifled by the sounds of the wind. The stifled noises help mask their locations, even if it is daytime.

Three groundhogs on a rock with green hills in the background.

How Will Climate Change Affect Groundhogs’ Activity?

Groundhogs are recognized winter hibernators, and no one expects to see the species running around in the snow too often.

To test the possible effects of global warming on groundhogs, scientists took some of the animals and kept them in an environment that stayed a steady 86° F (30 degrees Celsius). These groundhogs did not enter hibernation.

The planet will have many grave problems if it ever warms to the point that winters exceed  86° F. However, the study has shown that at least one of its effects is the lack of hibernation of groundhogs and, hypothetically, of many other animals.

What is Groundhog Day?

Residents in the United States and Canada celebrate Groundhog Day on February 2. It stems from the Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that winter will go on for six more weeks if a groundhog comes out of its burrow on this day and spots its shadow because of the clear weather. However, spring will arrive early if the groundhog does not see its shadow because of cloudy skies.

The day was first marked in 1886 in the local newspaper of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, residents of the state have been watching the same groundhog for the past 136 years – a legendary groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil.

Every February 2, Phil is pulled from his burrow in front of TV cameras in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania as eager onlookers watch to see if he will see his shadow.

Unfortunately, despite his mythical status, Phil only predicts the weather correctly 39% of the time, according to the Stormfax Almanac.

Still, Groundhog Day is a fun, widely celebrated tradition up until the present day.

Groundhog peeking out from a hole in the ground.

Author: Bernice Go

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.


  • Bernice Go

    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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