People view beavers and woodchucks as rodents who destroy their backyards or lawn. But few know about the vast differences between the two.
At an initial glance, they might seem the same, but if you look closely, the two are completely different based on their appearances and characteristics. Beavers and woodchucks belong to the same order of Rodentia.
The difference between beavers and woodchucks is that beavers are aquatic creatures, while woodchucks are terrestrial ones.
- A beaver is a large aquatic rodent with webbed feet and a broad tail, known for building dams and lodges.
- A woodchuck is a burrowing rodent, also known as a groundhog, with short legs and a stocky build.
- Beavers are found near bodies of water, while woodchucks live in caves on land.
Beaver vs Woodchuck
A beaver a big rodent, semi-aquatic mammal, with flat tail, webbed feet with high adaptability in water, found in European and Asian countries. Woodchuck also called groundhog is a mammal known for making tunnels and dens on earth and wood.
|Parameters of Comparison||Beavers||Woodchucks|
|Place of Origin||There are two different species of beaver. One of them predominates in Europe and parts of Asia, while the other one mainly exists in North America.||Woodchucks are exclusive to North America only. They are not found that much anywhere else.|
|Weight||The weight of beavers is much more than that of a woodchuck. An adult beaver weighs far more and is about 25 kilograms.||Woodchucks are not as heavy as beavers. They weigh a lot less comparably. An adult is around 2 to 4 kilograms.|
|Eating habits||Beavers are completely herbivorous. They do not eat anything other than green leaves and roots.||Woodchucks are sometimes insectivores too. They mainly consume greens but can eat tiny insects sometimes.|
|Time of activity||Beavers are nocturnal animals. They are active during the night.||Woodchucks are diurnal animals. They sleep during nighttime and pursue their activities throughout the day.|
What is a Beaver?
A beaver is of the Rodentia order and has two subspecies. They mainly dominate North America and Eurasia.
The beaver is quite an interesting animal. They are nocturnal as they finish most of their jobs during the night.
They are born architects. They can build brilliant dams and canals.
As they are semi-aquatic animals, they have webbed feet and scaly tails. Also, their incisors, like that of a rodent, help them cut materials required for building their homes.
Their tails have some other uses, too, as they use them as an alarm. The tail of the beaver can be used to communicate with others.
When exposed to danger, they slap their tails against the ground to warn others. Beavers have unique characteristics.
As they grow in age, they grow in body mass too! Ultimately they weigh almost 25 kilograms with age.
They also live a longer life.
What is a Woodchuck?
A woodchuck (scientific name: Marmota monax) is also known as a groundhog. It gets its woodchuck name from the Canadian Algonquin tribe.
Originally belonging to the same order Rodentia as that of a beaver, it comes from a different family. But it is also in close relation to a squirrel.
Mainly based in regions of Alaska and the Great White North- Canada, a woodchuck is also found in the northern and northeastern parts of the USA. They have claws and dig burrows to live in.
They mainly gnaw on the different garden plants and are terrestrial animals. The holes dug by them can be annoying as they damage buildings and skyscrapers.
They choose to live off insects sometimes. You can find them in temperate regions, and they are found to hibernate throughout the long, harsh winter seasons.
They are also given secret hairs under their coats, keeping them warm. They could have had a longer lifeline but had many enemies and predators.
We have observed that when such a woodchuck is kept away from predators, they live longer for 6-7 years.
Main Differences Between Beavers and Woodchucks
- Beavers and Woodchucks mainly differ in looks. While both have the same stout stocky build and are covered in brown fur, they have different characteristics. The beavers’ tails are flat, which helps them swim along with yellow incisor teeth. On the other hand, Woodchucks have bushy tails, for they are land animals. The incisors are also present here, but they are white.
- The feet of the two animals are different on many levels. Firstly, beavers are blessed with webbed feet like ducks, which aid their swimming. A beaver does not possess any claw-shaped features in their feet. But, a woodchuck does not possess such kind of webbed feet. Instead, they have sharp claws for gnawing.
- The main point of variation between a woodchuck and a beaver is that they have different behaviours. A woodchuck likes to stay in solitude. This is why they choose to move away from their families once they have grown up. But beavers are family-oriented! They live amidst colonies along with their kids. Also, they are animals that mate throughout life.
- Woodchucks dig holes and burrows for their living, while beavers construct canals and dams to live.
- Beavers are aquatic animals. You can see them living near rivers or water bodies. But, a woodchuck prefers to stay on land. It is not like they cannot swim- they choose land and dry areas.
- A beaver destroys greatly as they destroy trees by tearing wood and branches and building their dams. Also, these dams are not good for the water bodies as they obstruct the flow. Meanwhile, a woodchuck likes to dig holes everywhere. They destroy lawns and porches and eat all the garden plantations.
- Beavers live for a long time as compared to woodchucks. Beavers can live up to 25 years, while the lifespan of woodchucks is not so much. They live for two to three years at the most!
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Piyush Yadav has spent the past 25 years working as a physicist in the local community. He is a physicist passionate about making science more accessible to our readers. He holds a BSc in Natural Sciences and Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science. You can read more about him on his bio page.