Woodchucks Don’t Chuck, Chew, or Eat Wood

Centuries before any English speakers ever laid eyes on this animal, the Narragansett people of Rhode Island— an Algonquian tribe— called it a “wuchak.” This indigenous name likely shared roots with a similar Cree word meaning weasel or fisher.

English speakers turned “wuchak” into “woodchuck,” leading not just to a popular tongue-twister, but a lot of misconceptions. Many people are under the impression that woodchucks chew or eat wood in a manner similar to beavers, but this isn’t accurate. A woodchuck’s diet contains mostly herbs, grasses, dandelions, clovers, and berries— no wood at all!

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