Some Facts about Woodchucks
The scientific name of woodchucks is Marmota monax, and they are commonly known by one of the various names such as whistle pig, land beaver, and groundhog. They belong to the family of marmots, which are substantial ground squirrels. They live all across the United States. As they are found in plenty of different regions, they have unique names in these other regions.
Why are they Called Whistle Pigs?
In some regions, people refer to woodchucks as whistle pig. When a woodchuck is threatened, it squeals loudly. These squeals sound very familiar to whistle. The whistling or squealing alarms other woodchucks nearby of danger. It may also help in scaring away the predators. It is how woodchucks got the name of a whistle pig.
Woodchucks Don’t Really Chuck Wood
In regions where these creatures are called woodchucks, it is not because they love to chuck wood. They have got various names from the Native Americans. It includes wuchak (Algonquian), otchig (Ojibwa and otchek (Cree). The English settlers used sounds that were more familiar to their mother tongue to bring up new words that sounded like the Native American names. It is how “woodchuck” came into being.
Tongue Twisters on Woodchucks
Tongue twisters are short rhymes, phrases, or sentences that are difficult to say repeatedly or quickly due to alliteration. When similar sounds are used frequently, it is called alliteration. For example, try to say “She sells seashells on the seashore” numerous times quickly without mispronouncing a word or stuttering. It is how tongue twisters work. They are not just amusing ways of playing with words but are also pretty handy in serious situations. Doctors often use tongue twisters to help people with speech disorders.
As the name ‘woodchuck’ sounds funny, it has given rise to many famous tongue twisters that you may have come across. Two of the famous ones are: ‘How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?’ and ‘A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could if a woodchuck could chuck wood!’ (See What Is the Real Sound That a Fox Make?)
What if Woodchucks Chucked Wood?
In 1988, a Fish and Wildlife technician from New York, Richard Thomas, estimated the amount of wood that one woodchuck might chuck if indeed it could chuck wood. The burrows of woodchucks have long tunnels which can be as long as 25 to 35 feet. It leads to a bathroom, a summer den, and a winter den for hibernation.
Through his calculations, Thomas found that an average woodchuck burrow is around 35 square feet. He calculated this by utilizing the dirt that woodchucks remove while creating their burrows as the proxy for wood. Thomas then multiplied the burrow square footage by an approximate weight of the soil. It was around 20 pounds per square feet, and the result came out to be that woodchucks can chuck around a whopping 700 pounds of soil while building a burrow.