Today’s Wonder of the Day takes a closer look at an animal that’s neither a hog nor a pig and doesn’t chuck wood. What is it? The woodchuck, of course!
The woodchuck — whose scientific name is Marmota monax — is more commonly called by one of several other names, such as groundhog, whistle pig or even land beaver. Woodchucks are rodents from the group of large ground squirrels called marmots.
So what’s up with all the different names? Woodchucks live all over the United States. Because they can be found in so many different areas, they came to be known by unique names in different regions.
For example, some people call them whistle pigs. When woodchucks are threatened, they will squeal loudly. Their squeal sounds somewhat like a whistle. This warns other woodchucks of danger and may also scare off predators.
In those areas where they’re known as woodchucks, it’s not because they like to chuck wood. Native Americans had several different names for woodchucks: otchek (Cree), otchig (Ojibwa) and wuchak (Algonquian).
A tongue twister is a sentence, phrase or short rhyme that is difficult to say quickly or repeatedly because of alliteration. alliteration is the repeated use of similar sounds. For example, try to say “whistle for the thistle sifter” several times as quickly as possible without stuttering or mispronouncing any words.