Woodchuck or Groundhog (Marmota monax)
A familiar sight in fields, fence rows and rock piles, woodchucks can often be seen sitting at the edge of their burrow. Solitary by nature, they are most active at dawn and dusk.
One of two true hibernators of Nova Scotia (bats are the other), woodchucks seal themselves in their burrows in late fall. They slowly enter hibernation over a period of three days to a month. Their body temperature drops from 37C to 3C and their heart rate slows from 80 beats to 5 beats per minute. The thick layer of fat built up over the summer provides the energy they need to survive. Woodchucks can lose up to 30 per cent of their body weight during hibernation.
Woodchucks primarily eat green vegetation. When they emerge from hibernation, woodchucks must rely on the bark and twigs from trees and shrubs as grasses are often not yet available.
Mating takes place in April and the young are born in May. Litters range in size from 1 to 8 and the young are born naked, blind and helpless.
"Shubenacadie Sam" lives at the park and he is the first groundhog to make a prediction every February 2 in Canada!