Many people get confused between groundhogs and beavers. I will admit, even I was unaware of the differences between the two. Here is a detailed guide on Groundhog vs Beavers.
The animal kingdom is diverse. There are so many different kinds of animals with so many unique characteristics.
There are aquatic animals, terrestrial animals, amphibians, aerial species. There are categorizations based on other criteria too like the presence of vertebrates, the presence of gills or lungs, method of reproduction, etc.
Egg-laying mammals are called oviparous animals, while animals who do not lay eggs are called mammals. Humans are mammals. Rodents, which we are concerned about today, are also mammals. Rodents belong to the order of Rodentia.
They occupy 40% of the total mammal population on earth. They are vertebrates. They could be both terrestrial species or amphibians.
The defining characteristic of Rodentia or rodents is their single pair of continuously growing incisors on both the upper and the lower jaw. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including human-made environments.
Rodentia is the order, the species are of various types like arboreal, fossorial, saltatorial, or semi-aquatic. Some examples of rodents include mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, beavers, groundhogs, hedgehogs, and many more.
Therefore, both groundhogs and beavers belong to the Rodentia order. They look similar but are very different from each other.
The difference between groundhogs and beavers lies in the habitat they occupy. Beavers are semi-aquatic and are found near water bodies, smaller, stagnant water bodies, whereas groundhogs are terrestrial and are found in burrows near cultivated fields and similar other places. This is one of the many differences between groundhog and beaver.
Comparison Table: Groundhog vs Beavers
|Habitat||Groundhogs are terrestrial creatures, they live in lowlands and woodlands, mainly plains.||Beavers, on the other hand, are semi-aquatic and live near smaller, stagnant water bodies like ponds and lakes.|
|Weight||Groundhogs are much smaller than beavers. They weigh up to 3kgs.||Beavers are the second largest rodents. They can weigh up to 32 kgs.|
|Tails||The groundhogs have short, fluffy tails.||Beavers’ tails are adapted to their aquatic habitat. They have large, flat, scaly tails in order to help them swim.|
|Eating habits||They are both mostly herbivore animals. They eat fruits, nuts, tree bark, etc. Groundhogs eat insects when another food material is scarce.||Beavers, due to their aquatic lifestyle, also eat aquatic plants apart from the usual nuts and fruits and such.|
|Building habits||Groundhogs mainly form burrows in the fields.||Beavers, however, are excellent builders and they build dams and lodges for their safe beings.|
|Life span||Groundhogs live for about 2-3 years.||Beavers can live up to 30 years.|
The scientific name of a groundhog is Marmota monax. Therefore, their genus is Marmota and their species is monax.
The Marmota genus has 14 other species within it, all similar to the groundhog. They are commonly described as giant squirrels, which is what they look like. They are also known as woodchucks. These creatures belong to the family of Sciuridae, which is the squirrel family.
Groundhogs are also referred to as ground squirrels as well because they usually inhibit lowland areas and woodland, which is usually not found in marmotas, other similar marmotas are usually found in the mountain regions.
They are crucial in maintaining healthy topsoil in the region they inhabit. They usually like burrows they create in open spaces.
In their food habit, they are herbivores, eating fruits, nuts, tea bark even but also grass and plant when necessary. They weigh about 3 kg on average.
Groundhogs have short fluffy tails. Though they usually remain on the ground, they are capable swimmers and they can also climb trees.
They are considered more solitary than other species of marmotas. The male and the female who mate together, don’t always stay together. Although, the same partners are known to mate for successive years.
The beavers have two distinct species: the North American beaver and the Eurasian beaver. They both belong to the genus Castor.
The species of the North American beaver is Canadensis and that of the Eurasian beaver is Fiber. Therefore the scientific names are Castor canadensis and Castor fiber.
Beavers are quite large, semi-aquatic rodents. Seeing that the two species belong to North America and Eurasia, beavers are native to the Northern Hemisphere. They belong to the family Castoridae.
Beavers are the second-largest living rodents. They are nocturnal animals too. Since they are semi-aquatic, they have adaptations for the aquatic lifestyle, like webbed feet, broad, flat, scaly tails, both of which help them swim.
Beavers have stout bodies with large heads, they can weigh up to 32 kgs. They mainly have brown or grey fur. They also have very prominent and strong incisors with which they can bite down trees.
Ecologists consider beavers as keystone species in their ecosystem and that is because of their building habits. They are often referred to as semi-aquatic engineers because they made dams and lodges with trees, miss, rocks in the semi-aquatic habitat they live in.
Beavers can chew down trees for making the dams. These are then used by other species present in the ecosystem, and so they are termed as the Keystone species.
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Difference Between Groundhog and Beavers
One of the main differences between groundhogs and beavers is their habitat. Groundhogs are terrestrial creatures, they live in lowlands and woodlands, mainly plains. Beavers, on the other hand, are semi-aquatic and live near smaller, stagnant water bodies like ponds and lakes.
Groundhogs and beavers are both considered Giant Squirrels. But groundhogs are much smaller than beavers who are the second-largest rodents present. Groundhogs weigh up to 3kgs.
Beavers can weigh up to 32 kgs.
Beavers’ tails are adapted to their aquatic habitat. The groundhogs have short, fluffy tails. The beavers have large, flat, scaly tails in order to help them swim.
They are both mostly herbivore animals. They eat fruits, nuts, tree bark, etc. Beavers, due to their aquatic lifestyle also eat aquatic plants. Groundhogs sometimes eat insects when other foods are scarce.
Groundhogs mainly form burrows in the fields. Beavers, however, are excellent builders and they build dams and lodges for their safe beings.
Groundhogs live for about 2-3 years. Beavers can live up to 30 years.
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Naomi is an educator with 2 decades of experience working with children of all ages. She is a keen observer of the magic and importance of Maths in our daily lives. Follow me on Linkedin