Bay Journal

February’s Famous Shadowy Figure

  • By Kathleen Gaskell on January 01, 2013
  • Comments are closed for this article.
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? A study done by one wildlife biologist who calculated the amount of wood needed to fill the interior of a typical groundhog/woodchuck burrow came up with an answer of 700 pounds. (Earl Andrew/ Wikipedia)

Groundhog day is based on legends. The answers to these questions are based on facts. How many do you know?

1. The groundhog is sometimes called a woodchuck. How did it get this name?

A. Early settlers mistook it for another species of beavers, which are known for taking down trees.
B. It often hides from predators in hollowed-out stumps or logs.
C. It comes from the Native Indian word for the animal, wuchak.
D. No one is quite sure.


2. The groundhog is sometimes called a whistle-pig. How did it get this name? (Two answers are correct.)

A. Native Indians carved its thigh bone into a whistle.
B. The groundhog's alarm cry sounds much like a whistle.
C. The groundhog's mating song sounds much like a whistle.
D. It comes from the Native Indian word for the animal, whittelpeeg


3. Which of these is the groundhog's closest relative?

A. Badger
B. Beaver
C. Mink
D. Squirrel


4. Although he does not live in the watershed, the most famous groundhog of all does live in a Bay state. He is:

A. Patuxent Pete
B. Punxsutawney Phil
C. Potomac Paul
D. Paddy Patapsco


5. As a rule, groundhogs are:

A. Diurnal
B. Nocturnal
C. As likely to be out during the day as during the night.


6. Which of these is not one of the groundhog's defenses against predators?

A. Claws
B. They taste terrible
C. Tree-climbing.
D. Two front incisors


7. True or false? The woodchuck is a good swimmer.

8. Groundhogs mostly eat grasses and forbs. What is a forb?

A. A tree sapling that is less than 12 inches tall
B. A non-woody flowering plant that is not a grass
C. Grass-eating insect larvae
D. Weeds

9. Where do groundhogs get most of the liquids that they consume?

A. Groundwater flowing through the deeper tunnels in their burrows.
B. A nearby spring or stream
C. The plants they eat
D. Vernal pools


10. When it is not hibernating, the groundhog's temperature is around 97 degrees. What is it when the groundhog is hibernating?

A. Less than 50 degrees
B. Less than 45 degrees
C. Less than 40 degrees
D. Less than 35 degrees


11. When it is not hibernating, the groundhog's heart beats more than 100 times a minute. How many times a minute does it beat when the groundhog is hibernating?

A. Less than 34
B. Less than 24
C. Less than 14
D. Less than 4


12. Woodchucks are used in medical research to test therapies for two diseases of the four diseases listed below. Which two?

A. Cancers of the blood
B. Hepatitis B
C. Jaundice
D. Liver cancer



1. C
2. B & C
3. D
4. B
5. A
6. B
7. True
8. B
9. C
10. C
11. D
12. A & B

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About Kathleen Gaskell

Kathleen A. Gaskell, the layout & design editor for the Bay Journal, has been involved with several environmental programs for children.

Read more articles by Kathleen Gaskell


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