Even though the word hog conjures up the image of a porcine animal the groundhog is really a rodent.


Groundhog (Marmota monax) in Milliken Park, Toronto.

Groundhogs are members of the squirrel family, more specifically ground squirrels in group known as marmots. Groundhogs do not live up in trees but in burrows they in the ground.

It is often impossible to approach one of these rodents without scaring them off at which point they retreat into their burrows and hide. But sometimes they can be less timid, especially in areas where humans typically do not bother them.

I took these pictures at various parks in Scarborough.

Groundhog .

Groundhog at the entrance of its burrow, L’Amoreaux Park, Toronto.

The groundhog is also called a woodchuck. So if you hear the tongue-twister “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” it is about this animal.

Groundhogs have other cultural significance in North America, namely the 2nd of February is known as “Groundhog day” in Canada and the United States. Groundhogs said to emerge from their burrows on that day to predict how close the arrival of the spring is.

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Last updated: June 12, 2016

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