If you’ve ever seen a groundhog in passing, you may have thought it was a beaver. These two animals do have some similarities in appearance, but they have many differences as well. In this article, we’ll compare the groundhog vs the beaver, discussing their similarities and differences as well as which would be most likely to win in a fight.
What You'll Learn Today
What is a Groundhog?
A groundhog is a rodent considered to be one of the “largest marmots in the world”. Marmots are a class of rodents known for their bulky build and their proficiency at building tunnels.
Groundhogs are known by various names, including whistle pig and woodchuck. Like other marmots, they dig burrows which serve as their homes, hibernation sites, mating dens, and places of escape.
Groundhogs are stocky and look somewhat like large, brown squirrels. They are covered in soft brown fur, have small rounded ears, and typically walk on all fours unless they are threatened or standing on their back legs to get a better view of their surroundings.
Groundhogs live mostly in the eastern United States and Canada. They are most commonly found in grasslands, highlands, and forests.
They are primarily herbivorous, eating plant foods like flowers, leaves, grass, wild lettuce, and tree bark. They also occasionally eat insects, snails, and even small birds, so they are technically considered omnivores.
What is a Beaver?
Beavers are the second largest rodent in the world, trailing only the capybara of Africa. These creatures are known for their flat tails, orange teeth, and dam-building skills.
Beavers use their teeth to fell trees, stripping them of leaves and smaller branches then lauling the trunks and larger branches to the water to build dams. By damming up sources of flowing water, they create swamps, marshlands, and artificial ponds, where they build lodges and live in families.
At first glance, beavers look similar to groundhogs, but they are much larger, generally darker in color, and have flat, hairless tails. They waddle around on all fours on land, but they spend a lot of time in the water and are graceful swimmers.
Beavers can hold their breath for up to 15 minutes while completely submerged under the water. They tend to retreat to their lodges or dams, which are in the water, anytime they sense they are in danger.
Beavers are found throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in parts of Europe and Asia. Because they spend so much time in the water, they are almost always found near rivers, streams, lakes, swamps, and marshlands.
Beavers are herbivores. They eat primarily leaves, flowers, berries, and other plant foods, though in the winter especially they will also eat the soft inner bark of trees.
Groundhog Vs. Beaver: Similarities and Differences
Now that we have a better idea of what groundhogs and beavers are, let’s take a closer look at some of their similarities and differences.
- Both rodents: Both beavers and groundhogs are large rodents. In fact, they are both some of the largest rodents in the world.
- Coloring: Both beavers and groundhogs are covered with brown fur.
- Physical characteristics: In addition to their coloring, groundhogs and beavers share other physical characteristics, such as their round ears, short, stubby legs, and dark eyes. They both have sharp front “buck teeth.” though the beaver’s teeth are orange while the groundhog’s teeth are not.
- Scientific families: Though they are both rodents, groundhogs and beavers belong to different classes of rodents. Groundhogs belong to the Marmota genus in the Sciuridae family, while beavers belong to the Castor in the Castoridae family.
- Size: Though both relatively large for rodents, beavers are much larger than groundhogs. Beavers weigh up to 60 pounds and can grow nearly 4 feet long, while groundhogs typically weigh 10 to 12 pounds and are 1 to 2 feet long.
- Distribution and habitat: As noted, groundhogs are primarily found in the eastern U.S.; they are only found in North America. Beavers, on the other hand, are found throughout the U.S. and Canada, and they are also found in parts of Europe and Asia.
What’s more, they typically live in different habitats. Groundhogs can be found in forests and grasslands, whereas beavers are always found near a water source.
- Diet: Though they have similar diets, groundhogs occasionally eat insects and other small creatures, while beavers do not. Beavers also tend to eat more tree bark than groundhogs do, as groundhogs do not fell trees and are only known to nibble on bits of bark during times of food shortage.
- Tail: The most obvious physical difference between groundhogs and beavers, other than size, is their tails. Groundhogs have round, furry tails that match the rest of their furry coat; beavers have flat, paddle-like tails that appear to be made of leather, tails which stand out in sharp contrast to their furry bodies.
Groundhog Vs. Beaver: Who Would Win?
You may be wondering which of these furry rodents would come out on top in a battle. Groundhogs and beavers are not very likely to fight each other though; they are both prey animals who would be more likely to hide or run away than engage in a fight.
That said, both groundhogs and beavers can become aggressive when defending their territory and young–so any perceived threat may prompt them to fight.
For example, if a beaver came too close to a groundhog’s burrow, the groundhog may go outside, stand on its hind legs, and threaten the beaver to back down. The beaver may engage the groundhog if it hopes to win the territory or feels threatened.
If forced into such a fight, the beaver would likely win because it is larger than the groundhog. It could use its sharp teeth to bite and would possibly use its tail to slap the groundhog into submission.
The groundhog would stand on its back feet and attempt to bite and wrestle the beaver, but it would most likely be overwhelmed by the beaver’s larger size and greater strength.
For more information about beavers and groundhogs, as well as what a fight between them might look like, check out this video:
Beavers and groundhogs may look pretty similar from a distance, but they have many differences that set them apart. Though they are both large rodents, beavers are significantly larger than groundhogs, tend to stick closer to the water than groundhogs do, and build dams and lodges out of wood whereas groundhogs build burrows in the ground.