According to statistics and a recent census on wildlife, it was brought to light that rodents can own 40% of the world’s population. They occupy a large space on the Earth and are often only causing problems to their environment or the 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 their similarity in physical appearance, they are mistaken for one another. So what is it that differentiates them?
- Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are large rodents that burrow underground and primarily feed on plants; beavers are semi-aquatic rodents that build dams and lodges in bodies of water and primarily feed on bark and twigs.
- Groundhogs are solitary animals, while beavers are social and live in family groups; both are active during the day.
- Groundhogs are found primarily in North America, while beavers are found in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Groundhogs vs. Beavers
The difference between Groundhog and Beaver is that though they are both rodents, groundhogs are found in caves on flat and open grounds, whereas beavers, being semiaquatic, are found near smaller water bodies like rivers and lakes.
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 make the burrows.
They are small with a short and fluffy tail. Beavers belong to the Castor genus and are the second-largest living rodents on Earth.
They are semiaquatic rodents often found in canals near rivers and lakes, or lodges. They have a big long, flat tail that helps in swimming and acts as a defense mechanism.
|Parameters of Comparison||Groundhog||Beaver|
|Habitat||Burrows on ground||Majorly in water bodies like lakes and rivers|
|Forming burrows||They form burrows on flat and open surfaces or ground||Near lakes and rivers and sometimes also forms dams|
|Size of tail||Short and fluffy tails||Broad and flat tails|
|Weight||3 kg maximum||32 kg|
|Damage caused||They cause damage to most farmers||They are capable of changing the environment as their burrows can block rivers|
|Lifespan||2-3 years||Longer lifespan than a groundhog 25 years.|
What is Groundhog?
Groundhogs are rodents belonging to the M. monax species and are also a part of the family of large squirrels. They are also called woodchucks and are found mainly in Canada or central Europe.
They are found mostly on open fields of vegetation; they are mainly herbivores but also feed on small insects and worms. Since they burrow through the ground, leaving large holes, they cause major damage to farmers.
Their small and fluffy tail helps them keep warm and is useful in 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 these rodents is their incisors.
Unlike most rodents, their incisors are ivory white and grow 1.5 inches per week. The rapid growth is because of their constant usage, which leads to wearing them down easily.
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 species are found in Eurasia, whereas a few are 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 the rivers are often blocked due to the dams they built in these inhabitable areas. They feed on aquatic plants, shrubs, and leaves.
Beavers are good swimmers. They have broad and flat tails that enhance their swimming and act as a defense mechanism against the ones that prey on them.
They can weigh up to 32 kg 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.
Main Differences Between Groundhog and Beaver
- Groundhogs live mostly on land. Unlike groundhogs, beavers can live on land but prefer to live in water bodies like lakes and rivers.
- Groundhogs like to form their burrows on open and flat ground surfaces. Beavers make canals, dams, and lodges near or on lakes and rivers, which often cause damage to the environment.
- 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 and defense mechanisms.
- Groundhogs can have a maximum weight of only 3 kg. Compared to groundhogs, beavers are considered heavy, as an adult beaver weighs up to 32 kg.
- These rodents are known to cause damage but of different kinds. Groundhogs cause damage to farmers as they borrow through their fields, spoiling them for cultivating plants. Beavers can change their environment as they have even caused river blocks because of their inhabitable dams.
- 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.
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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.