woodchuck


woodchuck
/wood"chuk'/, n.
a stocky North American burrowing rodent, Marmota monax, that hibernates in the winter. Also called chuck, groundhog.
[1665-75, Amer.; presumably a reshaping by folk etym. of a word in a Southern New England Algonquian language; cf. Narragansett (E sp.) ockqutchaun woodchuck]

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Reddish brown or brown species (Marmota monax) of solitary marmot inhabiting fields and forest edges in Alaska, Canada, and the eastern and central U.S. Woodchucks are 17–20 in.

(42–52 cm) long, have a 4–6-in. (10–15-cm) tail, and weigh 4–14 lbs (2–6 kg). They are good diggers, swimmers, and climbers. Their burrows have a main entrance and an escape tunnel. See also Groundhog Day.

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rodent
also called  groundhog 
 one of 14 species of marmots (marmot), the woodchuck is basically a giant North American ground squirrel. It is sometimes destructive to gardens and pasture lands, especially hay, clover, alfalfa, and grass. According to popular legend in the United States, the groundhog emerges from hibernation each year on February 2, designated as Groundhog Day.

      This stout-bodied rodent weighs up to 6 kg (13 pounds) and has a body length of up to 50 cm (about 20 inches) and a short, bushy tail up to 18 cm long. Thick fur on the upperparts ranges through various shades of brown; the feet are darker and the underparts are buff. Melanistic (nearly black) and Albino individuals occur in some populations. Found from the eastern and central United States northward across Canada and into Alaska, they most commonly live along forest edges abutting meadows, open fields, roads, and streams, but they are occasionally encountered in dense forest. The woodchuck is solitary except in the spring, when a litter of four to six young is born (one to nine have been recorded). The young stay with the mother for two to three months.

      Although woodchucks dig deep and extensive burrow systems, they are also good swimmers and can climb tall shrubs and sizable trees. They are most active in the morning and the evening, eating grasses and other green plants as well as some fruit and the bark and buds of trees. They feed heavily in summer and early fall, accumulating huge fat reserves for the winter. The animal is a true hibernator (hibernation). It curls into what appears to be a lifeless ball; its body temperature drops nearly to the ambient temperature of the burrow; and its heart rate decreases from 75 to 4 beats per minute. During the winter months the burrow may also provide shelter for foxes, skunks, opossums, raccoons, and other small animals, particularly cottontail rabbits. Woodchucks were once the objects of sport hunting and are considered quite edible. Classified as a marmot (genus Marmota), the woodchuck is a member of the squirrel family, Sciuridae, within the order Rodentia (rodent).

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Universalium. 2010.

Synonyms:
(Arctomys monax)


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Woodchuck — Wood chuck , n. 1. (Zo[ o]l.) A common large North American marmot ({Arctomys monax}). It is usually reddish brown, more or less grizzled with gray. It makes extensive burrows, and is often injurious to growing crops. Called also {ground hog}.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • woodchuck — 1670s, alteration (influenced by WOOD (Cf. wood) (n.)) of Cree (Algonquian) otchek or Ojibwa otchig, marten, the name subsequently transferred to the groundhog …   Etymology dictionary

  • woodchuck — ► NOUN ▪ a North American marmot with a heavy body and short legs. ORIGIN an alteration (by association with WOOD(Cf. ↑wood)) of an American Indian name …   English terms dictionary

  • woodchuck — ☆ woodchuck [wood′chuk΄ ] n. [altered by folk etym. < a S New England Algonquian name: cf. ? Narragansett ockqutchaun] any of several marmots of North America; esp., the common hibernating groundhog (Marmota monax) with coarse, red brown fur …   English World dictionary

  • Woodchuck EP — Infobox Album Name = The Woodchuck EP Type = EP Artist = Released = March 3, 2008 (UK) Recorded = 2007 at Britannia Road Studios, London Genre = Indie rock, pop rock Length = 13:34 Label = Epic Records Producer = Reviews = * RockLouder Rating|4|5 …   Wikipedia

  • woodchuck n — How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? He would chuck, he would, as much as he could, and chuck as much as a woodchuck would if a woodchuck could chuck wood …   English expressions

  • woodchuck — wood·chuck (wo͝od’chŭk′) n. ▸ A large burrowing rodent (Marmota monax) of northern and eastern North America, having a short legged, heavyset body and grizzled brownish fur. Also called groundhog; also called regionally whistle pig. ╂ [By folk… …   Word Histories

  • woodchuck — groundhog ground hog , ground hog ground hog (ground h[o^]g ), n. A reddish brown North American burrowing marmot ({Marmota monax}), also called the {woodchuck}. It hibernates in the winter. Syn: woodchuck, {Marmota monax}. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • woodchuck — noun A rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Scientific name: Marmota monax. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? mdash; popular tongue twister. Syn:… …   Wiktionary

  • woodchuck — UK [ˈwʊdˌtʃʌk] / US noun [countable] Word forms woodchuck : singular woodchuck plural woodchucks a groundhog …   English dictionary


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