An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Woodchucks Fattening Up

This Woodchuck is doing what Woodchucks do this time of year – eating fast and furiously, and putting on fat equaling about a third of their weight (granted, an apple has only a tiny fraction of a gram of fat, but every bit helps).  Accumulation of fat is essential if they are to survive months of hibernation.  It’s not known what stimulates this increase in appetite, but most likely photoperiod (length of day) plays a part.

Soon these rodents will seek shelter in their winter burrows, where their heart rate is reduced from 100 beats per minute to 15 and their temperature drops from 96 F. degrees to 47 F. degrees.  During hibernation, they lose roughly 20% to 47% of their body weight.  Those Woodchucks not able to accumulate sufficient fat reserves may not survive the three or four months of hibernation that take place in the Northeast. (Photo by Erin Donahue)

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.

8 responses

  1. Linda

    I’m doing the same thing! Eating apple pie, apple crisp, corn with butter, etc. I have to study the woodchuck to see how he burns it off in the winter—I haven’t been successful at that so far.😀

    September 18, 2019 at 8:57 am

  2. Alice

    Not much fat in apples, but ‘an apple a day…’ that ‘chuck looks like it knows where to find food. There’s a chipmunk, here, with a voracious appetite for the peanuts in the birdfood, it deftly climbs the shepherd’s hook, where the little dish feeder hangs, if it’s empty it sits & stares into the kitchen window, waiting for me to re-fill it, or toss some peanuts in the shell out. It’s dug a hole in the front yard 😮

    September 18, 2019 at 8:58 am

  3. Cheron barton

    GONE: Final count was 4 this year 😱

    Sent from my iPhone


    September 18, 2019 at 11:29 am

  4. Kim Holzberger

    Great photo!


    September 18, 2019 at 5:13 pm

  5. John Jose

    Great photo is right!

    September 18, 2019 at 8:06 pm

  6. The sugar in the apple is converted into fat by the woodchuck’s liver. That is how excessive sugar consumption makes people fat. It’s not the fat that makes people fat…it is the sugar and carbohydrates.

    September 22, 2019 at 9:00 am

    • Thank you, Mark! I should have known this from my own personal experience!

      September 22, 2019 at 9:51 am

Leave a Reply to Alice Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s