The woodchuck—also known as groundhog—is commonly found to the east of a line extending through Manhattan southwest to Arkansas City. Populations of woodchucks seem to be increasing and extending their range further west in Kansas.
The scientific name is Marmota monax. The first part, Marmota, is the Latin word for "marmot," the name given to the European marmot or the North American marmot, which is a close relative of the woodchuck. The last part, monax is an American Indian name for this rodent and means "the digger"; it alludes to the woodchuck's habit of excavating burrows.
The woodchuck has a compact, chunky body supported by relatively short, strong legs. Its tail is short and bristly. Its forefeet have long, curved claws that are adapted for digging ground burrows where it seeks refuge and hibernates during winter months. Its color is usually a grizzled brownish-gray, although fur color may vary from white to black. Woodchucks have chisel-like incisor teeth. From tip of nose to end of tail, woodchucks are approximately 20 to 27 inches long and weigh from 5 to 12 pounds.