If you’ve ever seen a groundhog scurrying across your yard or digging holes in your garden, you may have wondered – what are those cute little baby groundhogs called? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the names and characteristics of young groundhogs.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: baby groundhogs are called pups or kittens.

The Various Names for Baby Groundhogs


One of the most common names for baby groundhogs is “pups”. This is likely because groundhogs are rodents, and the babies of other rodents like squirrels and prairie dogs are also called pups. Newborn groundhogs typically weigh around 25-35 grams and are born hairless and with their eyes closed.

The mother groundhog takes care of the pups in an underground burrow for the first 6-8 weeks of their life until they are weaned. So calling baby groundhogs “pups” is certainly an appropriate name for these little furballs!


Some people also refer to baby groundhogs as “kittens”. This is probably because they resemble kittens in size and appearance when they first emerge from their burrow. Newborn groundhogs have soft fur, small rounded ears, and weigh about the same as a newborn kitten.

So it’s easy to see why people make the comparison between groundhog pups and kittens! The name “kittens” is especially fitting when the pups first open their eyes at around 5 weeks old and start exploring the world outside their burrow.

Their large inquisitive eyes and clumsy movements are reminiscent of playful kittens.


Another common term for baby groundhogs is “cubs”. This name aligns with the naming convention for babies of other wildlife species like bears and lions. Since groundhogs are a type of marmot, some people prefer to align their offspring’s name with other animals in the mammalian family.

When the pups emerge from the burrow at 6-8 weeks old, they start resembling mini-versions of the adults and “cubs” seems like a fitting descriptor. The groundhog cubs still have a lot of growing to do to reach the adults’ average weight of 12-15 pounds, but they definitely look like junior groundhogs at this stage!


An less common but still used term for newborn groundhogs is “pinkies”. This name refers to their appearance at birth when they are completely furless and their skin has a pink hue. Groundhog pups are born this way after a gestation period of about 32 days.

They are deaf, blind, and completely dependent on their mother’s care. The name “pinkies” is more commonly used for other newborn rodents like mice, but some people think it appropriately captures the baby groundhogs’ delicate state when they first enter the world.

After a few weeks their fur grows in and they take on a more typical groundhog appearance. But at birth, these tiny pink creatures are as helpless as can be!

What Baby Groundhogs Look Like

Size and Weight

Newborn baby groundhogs, known as kits or cubs, are tiny compared to their parents. They weigh just around 25-30 grams at birth, similar to a large guinea pig, and measure about 2.5 inches long from their noses to the base of their tails (called head-to-rump length).

That’s about the size of two AA batteries! As they mature over their first summer and fall, the kits grow rapidly, reaching around 800-1600 grams in weight by the time they emerge from the burrow with their mother the following spring.

Fur and Markings

Baby groundhogs are born with fine, soft fur that keeps them warm in the underground burrow. Their fur is slightly darker than adult groundhogs’ fur. By 4-5 weeks of age, their juvenile fur coat is complete, though it remains darker than the fur coat they will grow as mature adults.

Their markings and color patterns blend together more when they are young, compared to the distinctive markings seen on adult groundhogs.

Here’s an interesting fact about baby groundhog fur. All babies have a special dark brown fur patch just above the base of their tail, known as the “natal mark.” It fades as they grow up. Scientists think groundhogs evolved this marking to help mother groundhogs identify and care for their offspring underground where it’s dark.

Eyes and Ears

Baby groundhogs are born with sealed eyes and folded-over ears, which open after about four weeks. Their eyes open earlier than some other baby mammals, an adaptation that helps them navigate the darkness of the underground burrow. Their eyesight and hearing improve gradually as they mature.

By two months of age, their senses approach adult levels, getting them ready to emerge above ground. They will continue fine-tuning their senses as they explore life above ground and prepare for their first winter hibernation.

Behavior and Development of Young Groundhogs

Nursing and Weaning

Groundhog mothers nurse their young for about six to eight weeks after giving birth in early spring. The nutrient-rich milk allows the baby groundhogs, called kits or pups, to grow rapidly during this time.

At around five weeks old, the kits will start sampling solid foods like plants and insects brought to the den by their mother. By six to eight weeks of age, the kits are fully weaned from milk and eating only solid foods.An amazing fact about groundhogs is that the mothers are able to put off giving birth until spring, allowing the kits to be born when food is plentiful!

The mothers’ delayed implantation of the fertilized egg allows them to time the birth right before emerging from hibernation in early spring.

Leaving the Den

At about two months old, right around May or June, the baby groundhogs leave the den and venture outside for the first time. The timing lines up perfectly with warmer weather and abundant vegetation. At this stage, the kits weigh around half a pound to a pound.

The first few weeks spent outside of the den are a major learning period for the kits. They start exploring the area right around the den and begin sampling various plants. The mother groundhog shows them suitable foods and how to find insects and other protein sources.

This helps the kits learn what is safe to eat in their environment.

While learning to forage, the kits still return to nurse from their mother periodically. By two and a half months old, around July, the kits are completely independent. They disperse to establish their own home ranges nearby.

Digging Skills

Digging skills develop rapidly in baby groundhogs once they emerge from the den. At first, they use natural hollows or burrows made by other animals. But by the time they have reached independence in mid-summer, juvenile groundhogs are able to dig complex burrows of their own.

These burrowing skills are essential for the groundhog’s survival. Their underground burrows provide protection from predators and insulation from temperature extremes. According to the National Wildlife Federation, groundhogs are true hibernators, lowering their body temperature and heart rate for long winter dormancy in their burrows.

Because burrowing ability develops so early, most kits are able to dig winter dens and successfully hibernate through their first year of life. Their digging muscles and claws grow stronger with age, allowing adults to maintain multi-chambered burrows up to 40 feet long!

Threats and Predators

Natural Predators

Baby groundhogs face several natural predators that pose a constant threat. As young groundhogs start to explore life above ground around their burrow, they become easy targets for predatory birds like hawks and owls.

These birds of prey will snatch up young groundhogs in their talons and carry them off. Foxes, coyotes, bobcats, bears, and wild dogs also hunt groundhogs, especially vulnerable babies. Snakes like rat snakes and rattlesnakes may slither into groundhog burrows looking for a meal.

Weasels, minks, and raccoons will raid groundhog burrows and kill groundhog pups. Skunks also dig up groundhog burrows and prey on the young. For baby groundhogs, the world outside the burrow is filled with danger.

Humans and Pets

In addition to natural predators, humans and their pets pose significant threats to baby groundhogs. As suburbs expand into rural areas, groundhogs increasingly make their homes on properties shared with people.

Curious babies exploring a yard may get chased or killed by dogs, cats, or even hit by cars. Well-meaning but uninformed homeowners may trap and relocate groundhog families not realizing this often leads to death and family separation.

While adult groundhogs can fend off small pets, babies are helpless against an aggressive dog. People may also intentionally kill groundhogs considered as pests. Education on peaceful coexistence and deterrents like fencing are needed to protect groundhogs sharing space with humans.


Baby groundhogs have underdeveloped immune systems, making them susceptible to various viral and bacterial diseases. These include canine distemper, spread by wildlife like raccoons, foxes, and coyotes. Distemper causes seizures, impaired motor function, and death.

Leptospirosis, spread through urine, can lead to kidney and liver failure. Salmonellosis, transmitted by contaminated food and water, results in diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. Tularemia, spread by ticks and fleas, causes ulcerations and pneumonia.

An internal parasite called baylisascaris invades groundhog livers and brains, often killing them. Good sanitation and limiting contact with potential disease vectors can reduce transmission of these deadly diseases to vulnerable baby groundhogs.

Disease Cause Symptoms Prevention
Canine Distemper Virus Seizures, impaired movement Vaccinate wildlife reservoirs
Leptospirosis Bacteria Kidney and liver failure Limit contact with urine
Salmonellosis Bacteria Diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration Sanitize food and water
Tularemia Bacteria Pneumonia, ulcers Control ticks and fleas

The first months above ground are the most hazardous for baby groundhogs. Their survival depends on avoiding the many natural and human-related threats that lurk outside the burrow. By staying vigilant and sticking close to their protective mothers, some will make it to adulthood.

For groundhogs, early life is all about escaping predators, diseases, and people long enough to grow up. Though the odds are stacked against them, those who endure will emerge wiser and wilier, seasoned survivors of a treacherous world.

Interesting Facts About Baby Groundhogs

Litter Sizes

Groundhogs typically give birth to litters of 2-6 baby groundhogs called kits or cubs. The average litter size is usually around 4 or 5. The number of kits in a litter depends on factors like the age and health of the mother groundhog.

Older, more experienced female groundhogs tend to have larger litters. The babies are born hairless and blind after a gestation period of about 32 days.


Baby groundhogs are born in April or May shortly after the mother emerges from hibernation. At this young age, the kits are nursed and cared for exclusively by their mother in the depths of the underground burrow.

By late summer, the kits will emerge from the den and start grazing on vegetation near the burrow entrance. The mother groundhog shows the babies what foods to eat. Amazingly, by fall when it’s time to hibernate again, the kits will already weigh nearly as much as the adults!

The whole groundhog family will curl up together and hibernate for the winter, with the kits staying super close to mom for warmth.

Life Span

In the wild, groundhogs typically live for around 3-6 years. Male groundhogs tend to have higher mortality rates than females, sometimes living only half as long. The main causes of death for wild groundhogs include predation, disease, and motor vehicle collisions.

With less access to veterinary care, wild groundhogs have a shorter average lifespan than domesticated groundhogs. However, some exceptional individuals have been known to live up to 14 years in the wild!

For groundhog kits born in the spring, survival over their first winter hibernation is critical to reaching adulthood.


In summary, baby groundhogs are typically referred to as pups, kittens, cubs or pinkies. They are born hairless and blind but quickly mature over 2-3 months inside the den. Once they emerge above ground, the pups learn to forage, dig, and avoid local predators.

While curious and cute, these little furry creatures can cause damage in your garden. Understanding their development and behavior can help you coexist with young groundhogs peacefully.

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