Animal Encounters

Fun Animal Encounters

From a hairy tarantula to a talking African gray parrot, you never know what you’ll bump into in Ranger Rick's Backyard Safari at the Tennessee Aquarium!


Animal Keeper

Animal Keeper Updates

Get a peek behind the scenes of the Aquarium’s Husbandry department. Read their weekly animal updates and get an insider’s look at caring for over 10,000 animals and plants.



Marmota monax

ON EXHIBIT:  Classroom and Encounter Animal


Woodchucks, also known as groundhogs and whistle pigs, are the largest members of the squirrel family in their geographic range. They have ever-growing incisors that must be worn down by chewing to prevent serious health issues. They are true hibernators, which means they enter the burrow in the late fall and sleep until spring. Their burrows have multiple entrances, may have 45 feet of tunnels and go as deep as five feet. 

Visit our Storm Team of Aquarium Animals to learn more about animal forecaster folklore and visit our blog to see Chuck's visit to CNN in Atlanta.

IUCN lists woodchucks as a species of Least Concern.

Fan Photo

Photo by Aquarium Staff 

About This Animal

SIZE:  16-27 inches; Weight: 4-14 lbs 

RANGE: East central Alaska south to northern Idaho and across southern Canada as well as throughout the eastern United States to central Alabama and Arkansas and west to the Plains states.

HABITAT: Edges of forests where there is open land, along fence rows, heavily planted gullies or stream banks, farmland, grassy pastures, woodlots

DIET: Primarily herbivores grazing on grasses and forbs (any non-woody flowering plant that is not a grass), clovers, leaves of sassafras and other trees, farm crops and a variety of herbs. When green vegetation is not readily available, woodchucks will eat buds, bark, twigs, fruits (i.e. apples and pawpaws) and occasionally insects, snails and bird eggs.