Marmota monax - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Woodchuck
Other English Common Names: Groundhog, woodchuck
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Marmota monax (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 180137)
French Common Names: marmotte commune
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.106510
Element Code: AMAFB03010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Rodents
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Rodentia Sciuridae Marmota
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Marmota monax
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 09Jun2000
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Distributed across much of northern and eastern North America.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Sep1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (01Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S5), Alaska (S2S3), Arkansas (S4), Connecticut (S5), Delaware (S5), District of Columbia (S5), Georgia (S3), Idaho (SNA), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S5), Kansas (S4), Kentucky (S5), Maine (S5), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S5), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNR), Mississippi (S4?), Missouri (S4), Nebraska (S4), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (S5), New York (S5), North Carolina (S5), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (S3), Pennsylvania (S5), Rhode Island (S5), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (S4), Tennessee (S5), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S5), West Virginia (S5), Wisconsin (S5)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S5), Labrador (S5), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S5), Northwest Territories (S4), Nova Scotia (S5), Ontario (S5), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S4S5), Yukon Territory (S2S3)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Range extends from central Alaska eastward across Canada south of treeline to Labrador, and south in eastern North America to Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas; in the west the species is absent from the Great Plains and ranges southward only to northern Idaho (Kwiecinski 1998).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Range extends from central Alaska eastward across Canada south of treeline to Labrador, and south in eastern North America to Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Arkansas; in the west the species is absent from the Great Plains and ranges southward only to northern Idaho (Kwiecinski 1998).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NS, NT, ON, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2005; Sechrest, 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
ID Shoshone (16079)
OK Cherokee (40021), Creek (40037), Kay (40071), McCurtain (40089), Muskogee (40101), Nowata (40105), Oklahoma (40109), Osage (40113), Rogers (40131), Tulsa (40143), Wagoner (40145)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
11 Lower Cimarron (11050003)+, Kaw Lake (11060001)+, Middle Verdigris (11070103)+, Lower Verdigris (11070105)+, Bird (11070107)+, Lower Neosho (11070209)+, Deep Fork (11100303)+, Polecat-Snake (11110101)+, Dirty-Greenleaf (11110102)+, Illinois (11110103)+, Upper Little (11140107)+, Mountain Fork (11140108)+, Lower Little (11140109)+
17 Upper Coeur D'alene (17010301)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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General Description: Grizzled brown, sometimes reddish to blackish pelage, with dark feet and a short bushy tail; short legs; small ears. Total length to 82 cm.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Short tail, 20-25% of body length (25% or greater in other marmots); head without white markings, except around nose, that are present in other marmots; sides of neck are concolorous with upperparts (buffy in M. FLAVIVENTRIS); forelegs overlaid with deep reddish brown hairs; feet blackish brown; upper tooth rows are parallel (diverging in other marmots) (Kwiecinski 1998).
Reproduction Comments: Mating takes place right after emergence from hibernation, often early March to mid-April. Gestation lasts 31-32 days. Young are born from April to mid-May. Juveniles, about a month old, emerge from burrows in spring, and activity ends in fall, the exact timing varying with location (shorter active season in the north than in the south). Reproductive females produce a single litter of 2-6 (average 4) each year. Individuals become sexually mature in one year.
Ecology Comments: Densities are highly variable, ranging from 0.1/hectare in Quebec to 3.3./hectare in Ohio (Kwiecinski 1998).

Primarily solitary, except during breeding, though limited social interaction may occur at other times.

Abandoned burrows are widely used as den sites by other animals (Kwiecinski 1998).

Woodchucks lose about 33-40% of their body mass during hibernation. Most of the loss occurs when they arouse and warm up every week or two.

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: In Connecticut, post-breeding-season adults occupying home ranges used an average of 8 burrow systems; home range averaged about 4 ha in males, 2 ha in females (Swihart 1992). In Quebec and Iowa, home range was 7.8 ha and 4.1 ha, respectively, for males, smaller in females (see Swihart 1992). Females in Ohio had small home ranges (0.25 ha) after emergence from hibernation, but expanded them (to an average 1.35 ha) following after birth of young (Meier 1992). All juveniles disperse, but some remain in natal home range for one year (Kwiecinski 1998).
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Forest - Hardwood, Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil
Habitat Comments: Woodchucks live in open habitats (meadows, pastures, old fields, orchards) that often border wooded areas, which may be used for hibernation (Caire et al. 1989, Kwiecinski 1998). In Connecticut, burrow systems were often along woodland edges and brushy fence rows (Swihart 1992). Young are born in a den in an extensive burrow system.
Adult Food Habits: Herbivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore
Food Comments: Consumes a wide variety of herbs, grasses, and the leaves of shrubs; also invertebrates (Hamilton 1934, Arsenault and Romig 1985, Kwiecinski 1998).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: Woodchucks emerge from hibernation in winter or early spring, depending on location. The earliest emergence occurs in the southern part of the range; in the north, woodchucks generally emerge much later than "groundhog day" (February 2)..

Daily activity may vary seasonally. Most activity occurs in early morning and late afternoon; sometimes woodchucks are active at night (Koprowski 1987).

Length: 82 centimeters
Weight: 6400 grams
Economic Attributes
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Economic Comments: Sometimes regarded as a pest when causing damage to crops, gardens, landscaping, or structures.
Management Summary
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Management Requirements: Dolbeer et al. (1991) tested the efficacy of gas cartridges to kill woodchucks in burrows and found them to be effective; however, overall reduction of a population may be difficult due to enhanced survival and reproduction of remaining woodchucks and rapid recolonization from surrounding areas. The cartridges are available from: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Idaho Supply Depot, Pocatello, Idaho. See Swihart and Conover (1991) for information on the effectiveness of various chemical repellents on garden plants.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Marmots

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Mapping Guidance: If parts of the occurrence are separated by less than the separation distance, these should be mapped as separate polygons.
Separation Barriers: Major water barriers greater than 300 meters width, in areas where water is not frozen during active portion of marmot year.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Juvenile dispersal of Marmota vancouverensis is generally less than 5 kilometers in suitable habitat (Bryant 1998), but can be much more. In M. flaviventris, virtually all males and slightly less than half the females disperse from the natal colony, typically as yearlings and regardless of population density in males; dispersal distance usually is less than 4 km but up to 15.5 km for males and 6.4 km for females in western Colorado (Armitage 1991). Separation distance is set at 5 km, although some locations farther apart than this may be part of the same metapopulation.

Marmots disperse through various habitats (Munro 1985), so separation distance is the same for both suitable and unsuitable habitat.

Home ranges generally small, but can exceed 8 hectares. Home ranges: M. monax, 1.23-2.86 hectares in Arkansas (Hayes 1977). M. flaviventris, 0.5 hectares (Barash 1973), 2.2 to 10 hectares in Colorado (Armitage 1974).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .1 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on a home range of 1 hectare.
Date: 12Mar2004
Author: Cannings, S. G., and G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 02Feb2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 02Feb2010
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
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  • Armitage, K. B. 1974. Male behavior and territoriality in the yellow-bellied marmot. Journal of Zoology, London 172:233-265.

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