Difference Between Groundhogs and Beavers (with Table)

According to statistics and recent census on wildlife, it was brought into light that 40% of the world population can be owned to the rodents. They occupy a large space on the Earth and are often only causing problems to their environment or people around them.

The most common rodent species that are hard to miss are rats, squirrels, mice and hamsters. Groundhogs and beavers are also rodents. Due to similarity in physical appearance, they are mistaken for one another. So what is it that differentiates them?

Groundhogs are rodents belonging to the genus Marmota, that of large squirrels. They are often found in burrows on flat and open grounds and have curved claws to help them with making the burrows. They are small with a short and fluffy tail.

Beavers are the rodents that belong to the Castor genus and are the second-largest living rodents on Earth. They are semiaquatic rodents and are often found in canals near rivers and lakes or lodges. They have a big long and flat tail that helps in swimming as well as act as a defence mechanism.

The main difference between Groundhog and Beaver is that though they are both rodents, groundhogs are found in burrows on flat and open grounds whereas, beavers, being semiaquatic, are found near smaller water bodies like rivers and lakes.

Comparison Table between Groundhog and Beaver

Parameters of ComparisonGroundhogBeaver
HabitatBurrows on groundMajorly in water bodies like lakes and rivers
Forming burrowsThey form burrows on the flat and open surface or groundNear lakes and rivers and sometimes also forms dams
Size of tailShort and fluffy tailsBroad and flat tails
Weight3 kg maximum32 kg
Damage causedThey cause damage to mostly farmersThey are capable of changing the environments as their burrows can block rivers
Lifespan2-3 yearsLonger lifespan than groundhog of 25 years.

What is Groundhog?

Groundhogs are rodents belonging to the M. monax species, are also a part of the family of the large squirrels. They are also called woodchuck and are found mainly in Canada or central Europe.

They are found mostly on open fields of vegetations, they are mainly herbivores but also feed on small insects and worms. Since they burrow through the ground, leaving large holes they cause major damages to farmers.

Their small and fluffy tail helps them keep warm and are useful during temperate climates. They also have curved claws for burrowing. They weigh 3-4 kgs max and have an average height of 7.4 inches.

The interesting thing about this rodent is their incisors. Unlike most rodents, their incisors are ivory white and grow 1.5 inches per week. The rapid growth is because of the constant usage of them which leads to wearing them down easily.

Groundhog

What is Beaver?

Beavers, as established are also rodents, but they are semiaquatic. They belong to the Castor genus and are said to be the second-largest species of rodents. Most of the species are found in Eurasia whereas a few of them are also found in North America.

Since they are semiaquatic, they make canals, dams and lodges on small water bodies like rivers and lakes. This leads to environmental disruption as many a time the rivers gets blocked due to the dams built by them in these inhabitable areas. They feed on aquatic plants, shrubs and leaves

Beavers are good swimmers. They have broad and flat tails that not only enhance their swimming but also act as a defence mechanism against the ones that prey on them. They can weigh up to 32 kgs and have a maximum height of 12-14 inches.

They are also nocturnal activities i.e., they are active at night. They also have webbed feet for swimming.

beaver

Main Differences Between Groundhog and Beaver

  1. Groundhogs live mostly on land. Unlike groundhogs, beavers can live on land but prefer to live in water bodies like lakes and rivers.
  2. Groundhogs like to form their burrows on open and flat ground surfaces. Beavers make canals, dams and lodges near or on lakes and rivers, that often cause damage to the environment.
  3. By physical appearance also they can be differentiated. Groundhogs have short and fluffy tails but beavers have a broad and flat tail that helps in swimming as well as for defence mechanism.
  4. Groundhogs can have a maximum weight of only 3 kgs. Compared to groundhogs, beavers are considered heavy as an adult beaver weighs up to 32 kg.
  5. These rodents are known to cause damage but of different kinds. Groundhogs cause damage to farmers as they borrow through their fields, spoiling it for cultivating plants. Beavers have the power to change their environment as they have even caused river blocks because of their inhabitable dams.
  6. A groundhog’s lifespan is not more than 2-3 years. Beavers, comparatively, have a longer lifespan than groundhogs. They can live up to 25 years.

Conclusion

Rodents make 40% of the population of living organisms in the world. They range from small and loved animals like squirrels and hamsters to the ones that instil fear in us like mice and rats. Two of them that are often confused with the other are beavers and groundhogs.

Groundhogs are rodents. The land is their natural habitat and they live in burrows made on open grounds. This often causes trouble to farmers as they burrow their fields and leaving it unfit for vegetation. Though they are primarily herbivores, they also feed on small insects and worms.

Beavers are semiaquatic rodents that spend most of their lives in small water bodies like rivers and lakes. They make canals, dams and lodges on these water bodies that often lead to disruption in the environment. They are herbivores that feed on shrubs, grass, leaves and aquatic plants.

The visible difference between a groundhog and a beaver is the size of their tail. Since their tail are used for different purposes they are also structured differently. Groundhogs have short and fluffy tails whereas beavers have broad and flat tails.

References

  1. https://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/z72-061
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1463-5224.2003.00307.x