Shy creatures who reside in extensive burrows, woodchucks keep to themselves and might go unnoticed in your own backyard.

Some gardeners might consider woodchucks pests—they enjoy a good salad as much as we do and will happily make a buffet of your vegetable garden. Yet these nearsighted mammals play an essential role in the ecosystem by providing food for larger predators. Their burrows also offer shelter to foxes, reptiles, amphibians and others.

woodchuck in the grass
Michael Szönyi
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Alamy Stock Photo
Woodchucks need their beauty sleep.

From late fall through early spring, woodchucks hibernate in their burrows. That’s why it’s never a good idea to close off a burrow until you know for sure that nobody’s home.

Did you know?

Is that little guy a woodchuck or a groundhog? Yes! There’s no difference; both names refer to the same animal, as does “whistle pig,” an older term that nods to the animal’s distinctive alarm call.

Bird in birdbath, enjoying a humane backyard
ebettini
ebettini

No matter how big or small your outdoor space, you can create a haven for local wildlife. By pledging to provide basic needs like water, food and shelter for wildlife, you can make a difference in your own backyard.