Are Groundhogs In The Squirrel Family? (Explained)

Groundhogs are one of the most adorable rodents in North America. They’re often thought to be related to squirrels, but are they? In this post, we’ll look at all aspects of groundhog biology and behavior to find out how they compare with their rodent neighbors. 

Groundhogs are part of a different family than squirrels, but they do share some similarities in behavior and diet.
To learn more about groundhogs, you can check out resources such as the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Twinkl, and LiveScience.
Groundhogs are herbivores that primarily eat plants like clover, alfalfa, and dandelions.
Groundhogs hibernate to conserve energy during the winter months when food sources are scarce.
Groundhogs typically live for 2-3 years in the wild, although they can live up to 6 years in captivity.

We’ll review their scientific names, habitat preferences, food needs, social behavior and much more.

Are Groundhogs In The Squirrel Family?

Yes, groundhogs are in the squirrel family. They are also rodents, but not all rodents are groundhogs. Groundhogs are not squirrels or chipmunks or prairie dogs or mice.

Groundhog Facts:

  • Groundhogs get their name because they hibernate (like bears) during winter and emerge from their burrows when spring comes around.
  • Their scientific name is Marmota monax (monax means solitary).
Creature Feature: Groundhog

What Is A Groundhog’s Scientific Name?

Groundhogs are members of the squirrel family. They’re just one type of arctic ground squirrel, which includes other rodents such as marmots and beavers.

A groundhog is a type of marmot. Marmots are large rodents that live in mountainous areas and hibernate for up to 8 months during winter months. 

They have short legs and large bodies with thick fur to protect them from the cold winters. Groundhogs get their name from their long front teeth, which they use like shovels when digging burrows underground where they sleep during hibernation season (usually between November and March).

“As explained in our article on Are Groundhogs in the Squirrel Family?, groundhogs are actually part of a different family than squirrels, but they do share some similarities in behavior and diet.”

How Long Do Groundhogs Live?

As with other members of the squirrel family, groundhogs have a relatively short lifespan. A groundhog will usually live for about 3-4 years. 

This is not particularly long compared to other rodents such as chipmunks, prairie dogs and marmots which can live up to 10 years or more.

What Is A Groundhog’s Habitat?

Did you know that groundhogs burrow underground? They also eat fruits, berries and grasses in the wild. Groundhogs are nocturnal animals, meaning they’re most active at night. 

The type of habitat a groundhog lives in can change its diet: if it’s in an area with lots of shrubs and trees, it will probably eat more nuts; if it lives near a lake or river, its diet may include fish.

It’s important to remember that the habits of each species vary widely depending on where they live!

Where Do Groundhogs Live?

Groundhogs are found throughout the eastern half of the United States, as well as southern Canada and Mexico. They live in forests, fields and meadows. Groundhogs have a variety of habitats that they can inhabit including open fields, woodlands and brushy areas.

When Do Groundhogs Come Out Of Hibernation?

Groundhogs are not active in the winter. They go into hibernation, which means they go to sleep and don’t wake up until spring comes around. This is when they emerge from their burrows and start looking for food again!

“National Geographic provides a fascinating look at the behavior and habitats of groundhogs in their article on Groundhogs.”

What Do Groundhogs Eat?

Groundhogs are omnivores, so you’ll be able to find many of the same foods in their diet as you would for a regular dog. They will eat grasses, vegetables, seeds, berries and fruit. They also eat insects such as ants or other bugs that they find on their travels.

The groundhog’s preferred habitat is somewhat unique: it spends the winter hibernating underground but comes out during warmer weather to enjoy a more active lifestyle above ground during springtime until late fall when they return underground once again in order to survive through winter’s cold temperatures once again.

Are Groundhogs Related To Chipmunks?

Groundhogs and chipmunks are both rodents, but they are not related. Groundhogs are herbivores and chipmunks are omnivores (which means they eat both meat and plants). 

Both species hibernate each winter, though groundhogs tend to stay underground longer than chipmunks do.

“If you’re interested in learning more about groundhogs, The Spruce has a great article on Facts About Groundhogs that covers everything from their diet to their lifespan.”

Are Groundhogs Related To Prairie Dogs?

The answer is no, groundhogs and prairie dogs are not related. Groundhogs belong to the rodent family, while prairie dogs are mammals. Though they look similar, there are some distinct differences between these two species:

  • A groundhog has short ears and a pointed snout, while a prairie dog has long ears and a flat snout
  • A groundhog’s fur is brownish-gray with tinges of brown or yellow on its underside; a prairie dog’s fur ranges from brownish-yellow to reddish-brown or black

Are Groundhogs Related To Mice?

Groundhogs are also rodents, but they’re not mice. Mice are in the order Rodentia while groundhogs are in the order Rodentia, making them different species within the same order of mammals. 

While their physical forms may be similar, they’re still very different creatures with their own unique characteristics and behaviors that make them unique from one another.

“For those curious about the difference between groundhogs and woodchucks, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a helpful article on Groundhogs vs. Woodchucks that provides a detailed explanation.”

Are Groundhogs Related To Beavers?

Beavers are in the rodent family and groundhogs are in the squirrel family. Both rodents are herbivores and eat plants. Groundhogs, however, have a wider diet than beavers because they will eat insects as well as plants.

Beavers have webbed feet for swimming and diving underwater to get food like aquatic plants or fish; groundhogs do not have webbed feet but will burrow through the ground to reach their food sources such as roots or seeds that may be underground

Are Groundhogs Related To Marmots?

Groundhogs and marmots are both members of the squirrel family, but they’re not so closely related to each other. They both belong to the same genus (Marmota), but they live in different regions: groundhogs primarily inhabit North America while marmots reside primarily in mountainous regions in Asia and Europe.

One thing that sets these two species apart is their body type. The groundhog has a squat figure with short legs, whereas the marmot has longer legs and larger ears. And while groundhogs have no noticeable fat layer underneath their fur, a thick layer of fat helps keep marmots warm during colder months since they live at high altitudes where temperatures can drop well below freezing point during wintertime!

“ThoughtCo offers some fun and interesting facts about groundhogs in their article on Fun Facts About Groundhogs, including the origin of Groundhog Day and the unique way groundhogs cope with the winter months.”

Are Groundhogs Related To Voles And Lemmings?

No, groundhogs are not related to voles and lemmings. They are in the same order as chipmunks (Rodentia), but they are not related to prairie dogs or marmots either. Voles and lemmings belong to their own order, Lagomorpha (which means “hare-like”).


Groundhogs are related to squirrels, marmots, woodchucks and prairie dogs. They have their own unique characteristics which make them different from these other animals. 

The main difference between the groundhog and the other animals in its family is its burrowing ability which allows it to live underground and escape predators.

Further Reading

For those interested in learning more about groundhogs and their behavior, diet, and habitats, we recommend the following resources:

Living with Groundhogs: The Indiana Department of Natural Resources provides information on living with groundhogs and tips for keeping them out of unwanted areas.

Groundhog Facts and Information: Twinkl provides a comprehensive guide to groundhogs, including their habitat, diet, and behaviors.

10 Surprising Groundhog Facts: LiveScience offers an informative article on 10 surprising facts about groundhogs.


What is a groundhog?

A groundhog, also known as a woodchuck or whistlepig, is a rodent species found throughout North America.

What do groundhogs eat?

Groundhogs are herbivores and primarily eat plants such as clover, alfalfa, and dandelions.

Where do groundhogs live?

Groundhogs live in burrows that they dig in fields and wooded areas.

Why do groundhogs hibernate?

Groundhogs hibernate to conserve energy during the winter months when food sources are scarce.

How long do groundhogs live?

Groundhogs typically live for 2-3 years in the wild, although they can live up to 6 years in captivity.