Art, Body & Soul

Peacock & Paisley

Woodchucks are wonderful animals — bright, curious, industrious, adorable, cuddly-chunky (just don’t make them mad or you’re in a world of

woodchuck

woodchuck

hurt). They are vegetarians, and nibble all day on whatever delights are available.  Gardeners are not so pleased with their presence, because they can wipe through a crop in no time.  But, there are many gentle ways to deter woodchucks.  They are sweet and good-natured fellow Earth family, so please share space with them.  My grandfather used to kill them and trained his dogs to do so, too.  Wire fencing will do an even better job, however.

Woodchucks interestingly timeshare dens with gray foxes.  When the foxes are done with their baby-raising den, they move to larger quarters elsewhere, and in move the woodchucks.  Most likely, it was the woodchuck who built the den in the first place.  Many other animals also use woodchuck dens for their homes, including rabbits, raccoons, and snakes.

Woodchucks look quite similar to beavers and spend a similarly-significant amount of time and effort building and maintaining fairly elaborate lodges.  While the beaver’s is partially underwater and partially above, the woodchuck’s den is underground.  It is carefully

woodchuck burrow

woodchuck burrow

constructed so as to keep the bedroom chamber from flooding, by having it elevated above the entrance to the den.  They also usually have at least 2 entrance/exits, for obvious reasons like escaping predators and in case one entrance was blocked.  Woodchucks also are very tidy; they clean up their fecal matter and bury it!  Just as chipmunks do.

While Ted Andrews in Animal Speak feels that the power cycle time for the woodchuck is during winter, I feel differently.  I feel that it certainly is remarkable that the woodchuck can lower its metabolism and body temperature drastically – to about 40 degrees Fahrenheit — but their joy in daily living during the warm months when they are not hibernating gives me great pleasure.  They really enjoy nibbling their food, often facing into the sun.  They seem to enjoy the warmth and pleasantness.  They are relaxed, unless there is a threat present, at which point they take off amazingly quickly.  They kind of roll along under the radar, quiet, calm, and enjoying life.  I always want to pet them, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t feel inclined.  I assume they have some pretty good chompers, so I’ll enjoy them at a distance.  Their fur is thick and beautiful, a warm, medium brown.  Earth-colored.

A woodchuck totem showing up in your life could be talking about a number of things:

woodchuck tracks

woodchuck tracks

  • burrowing deep into a subject, digging deep — as with your emotions
  • carefully constructing your abode
  • making your boundaries clear (woodchucks don’t like other woodchucks going into their dens, and they respect the pile of fresh dirt out front as a sign of “occupied – please do not enter”
  • managing your metabolism
  • being able to hibernate
  • stocking up on food or other nourishment for an anticipated long time without it
  • being able to go into a trance, such as lucid dreaming or shamanic journeying
  • the heavy initial work done in winter, during “downtime” that gives you rest as you prepare for a busy growth and production season

These things can be meant symbolically, and also literally.  You’ll know which interpretation is right for you by the way you react — your breathing changes, your pulse changes, you get goosebumps, you “just know”.  Trust yourself, and then determine what right action to take.

6 Comments

  1. dylan bordner

    After coming home from a drug test I swerved and slammed the breaks when a woodchuck dashed right out in front of me. Luckily he was unharmed and I thought nothing of it. Two weeks later the same thing happened while coming home from my drug test and I hit the poor woodchuck, he instantly died. I believe this was a sign but can’t quite figure it out. Any ideas?

  2. Charleen

    I know this is an old posting, but I wanted to share my experience I had with the adorable woodchuck. Last week, while on my lunch break, I was sitting on a chair outside (in the woods), and had a woodchuck come up to me, no more than 2 feet away! He was licking at the mud puddle (and snow) that was near me.

    I’ve heard that the eyesight of a woodchuck is very poor, so I’m not sure if he actually saw me as I was as still as I could be. I watched him for probably about a minute or so, listening to him slurp on the water, and then I finally said (out loud), “Well, I guess I’m not a threat!”…he looked up at me, and then scurried away!

    It was adorable…

  3. Mary-Elin Rollins

    I remember seeing a woodchuck, two actually, in one day. The Balloon Festival in Lewiston, ME. I went with my boyfriends mom. We both saw a quick glimpse of a woodchuck as it ran underneath the building steps next to where my building is. Then, later that day, I was feeding some hotdog bun to the dozens of ducks by the water and a woodchuck appeared. It seemed to stare at me for a bit and then it ran off, reappearing shortly after as I was throwing bread to the ducks still. I went to throw bread to the woodchuck and some ducks tried to steal the bread. The woodchuck attacked the ducks and ran off with the bread. The ducks were fine, just a bit startled and maybe a tad bruised and scraped, but not seriously hurt. It startled several people nearby too and I just sat there on the rock amazed and made a joke like, “well, I guess you shouldn’t try stealing food from that guy, huh.” Then I asked if the ducks were okay and they seemed to be, just went back to their waddling and swimming. That happened just last year. A chipmunk had also showed up by the water, running on the ground and some squirrels (common in the city) had also shown up in the trees that were around me. I am still amazed at the woodchuck sightings though. One right next door to where I live and one showing up twice after that at the festival. Three sightings in one day, in two different places that I had been. I read about them and thought, “wow, they sound quite similar to me!” lol I wonder if one had been in the woods at my childhood home, just a few years ago when I was in the woods by the brook. There was a beaver dam in the brook and I just assumed that I heard a beaver behind me messing with the trees and stuff, but now I wonder, if it may have been a woodchuck instead. My childhood home had quite a few wild animals on the land. Bears, coyotes/wolves, foxes, cougars, weasles, badger?, skunks, raccoons, rabbits, beavers, fish, frogs, insects, bugs, spiders, snakes, birds, chipmunks, squirrels, cats, dogs, chickens, turkeys, etc. Tons of wildlife and tons of domestic. We had fields, woods, and a brook, what do you expect? 🙂

  4. Shannon

    So interesting, a wood chuck slowly crossed the road in front of me today. I was driving back after donating a bunch of books and household things to Goodwill (I’m preparing to move). It was on a very busy road in a very busy city, so I was very surprised to see a woodchuck! It crossed safely. Thanks for the info!

  5. barbara Mortimer

    I have not seen a woodchuck for years and years….not since my childhood in Concord, N.H. when we used to watch them forage in mother’s vegetable garden.
    I am riding the waves of a shaky marriage right now and I seriously consider the signs and symbols presented to me through nature.
    I encountered a woodchuck yesterday evening while driving home from Chicago. I had just exited off the highway and came round a curve in the road as she/he waddled in front of the car. A fast waddle at that! I made a mental note to research woodchucks and I now thank you for sharing these wonderful insights. I am on the right path! Burrowing deep into my emotions and setting clear boundaries! It is so important to stay open!

    • Heather Cate

      Yay, Barbara! I’m glad you’re receiving and noticing signs that are supporting you in your journey. And what a great sign with the woodchuck! Good for you burrowing deep into your emotions and setting clear boundaries. Important for all of us to do, but it’s the opposite of what many of us were taught to do. You are brave and strong and will come through these challenges better than you started. Thank you for sharing with us! I hope you’ll keep us posted. Blessings!

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