As I said a few months ago, with the bad comes good and so it is with the tree we lost this past May. We have had occasion to use some of the wood from that tree in our wood stove last week, and it is some of the best wood we’ve used yet. Even better is the fact that we didn’t have to buy it. It only cost us sweat and labor. So need we worry about woodchucks chucking our wood?
The woodchuck (Marmota monax), is actually a member of the squirrel family. You may know this animal as a “ground hog”, of which the most famous is Punxsutawney Phil. Every year on February 2 Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his temporary burrow – a simulated tree stump at the rural site of Gobbler’s Knob in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, winter weather will continue for six more weeks. But if he doesn’t see his shadow, then spring is just around the corner.
The groundhog or woodchuck grows to a length of about 16” to 26” and weighs between 4 and 9 lbs. They are well adapted for digging, with short but powerful limbs and thick curved claws. Groundhogs are covered with two coats of fur – a dense grey undercoat and a longer coat of banded guard hairs – which helps keep them warm during the winter months when they hibernate. In the wild groundhogs only live about six years, since they have many predators such as foxes, bobcats, bears, wolves, coyotes, large hawks, dogs and even snakes, who prey on the young woodchucks.
So, how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? The answer is: As much wood as a woodchuck would, if a woodchuck could chuck wood.
One thing is for certain, a woodchuck certainly couldn’t chuck anything as large as we have stored on our back patio. I think our wood is safe – at least from woodchucks.
In all seriousness, woodchucks cannot chuck wood. The name is unrelated to wood or chucking of any kind. The name comes from the Algonquian Indian name for animal – wuchak.