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).

English settlers used the more familiar sounds of their own language to come up with a word that sounded like these Native American names. That’s how “woodchuck” came about.

The name woodchuck is kind of funny, though. In fact, it gave rise to one of the more famous tongue twisters you’re likely to come across:

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could, if a woodchuck could chuck wood!

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.

Although tongue twisters can be a fun way to play with words, they’re also very useful for a serious purpose. Some doctors use tongue twisters to help people overcome speech disorders.

 

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    • Hi, Nicholas! Thanks for being the very first Wonder Friend to leave us a comment on today’s Wonder! We think that ROCKS! Woodchucks are called “woodchucks” because English settlers heard the word Native Americans used for the animals. The settlers used their own language to make the word from the way the Native American word sounded to them! You can read more about it by re-visiting this Wonder! :-)

    • Hi, Jen! We think woodchucks are cute, too! We really like the still picture of the woodchuck on the front page of Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Hello, ASD! It’s WONDERful to hear from you again…thanks so much for visiting today’s Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know something COOL you learned by exploring today’s Wonder, Callie! Thanks for leaving us this super comment, too! :-)

  1. Hey, wonderopolis. I loved your video. It is awesome again. In Mrs. Kennedy’s class, the video was great. My class thought it was either monkey’s or something about Dr. Suess, but it was about a woodchuck. I learned a lot. You’re awesome. :) :) :) :)

    • We really appreciate all the super nice things you say about Wonderopolis, Ella! Thank you for being such an enthusiastic, WONDERful Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Well, then, we’re glad you stopped by Wonderopolis today, Hannah, because today’s Wonder is about BOTH of those things! Thanks for leaving us this GREAT comment…Happy Friday! :-)

    • Thanks for checking out today’s Wonder, Shundee! Did you like all the tongue twisters? We thought they were FUN to try and say super fast! :-)

    • Thanks for your comment today, Sydney! We don’t think woodchucks REALLY chuck wood…it’s just a fun way to talk about these COOL creatures! :-)

  2. BETTY BOUGHT BUTTER,BUTTER WAS BITTER
    BETTY BOUGHT BETTER BUTTER,TO MAKE THE BITTER BUTTER BETTER!!!
    HAHAHA
    HAVE FUN GUYS :)

  3. Can you do a soccer softball and a lacrosse one soon, please? Thanks :) and I didn’t know this one: A tutor who tooted the flute
    Tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
    Said the two to the tutor:
    “Is it harder to toot or
    To tutor two tooters to toot?”

    • We’re super happy to hear that you have enjoyed learning about woodchucks in Wonderopolis today, Adel! We can’t wait for tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day® either! :-)

    • Hi, Mr. P. and Mrs. Armfelt’s 3rd graders! We think it looks like Wendy the Woodchuck was eating a walnut (or maybe a pecan). It looked like she had to “munch” through the outer shell to get to the yummy treat inside! Here is a quick but tricky-to-say tongue twister for you guys:

      Freshly-fried flying fish. Try to say that one three times really fast! :-)

    • Hello, Hailey! Yes, we liked the video a lot! We think it was cute to see Wendy the Woodchuck eating a snack on the “munch cam.” Have a GREAT day! :-)

  4. I don’t think so, because once on t.v. this man and some wood chucks “chuck wood” but the wood just stayed the same!!!!

  5. I think woodchucks do chuck wood. In the video, I’m pretty sure that’s wood. I think a lot of people think woodchucks chuck wood just because of their name (woodchucks)
    -Landon

    • That’s some pretty smart thinking, Landon…we’re proud of you! Thanks for sharing what you think about woodchucks today! :-)

  6. Wait a second…wouldn’t wood chuck backwards be chuck wood that makes 0% sense because a woodchuck can’t chuck wood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks for sharing your clever perspective on the woodchuck tongue twister, Kaylee! We’re proud of you for doing extra WONDERing today! :-)

  7. When I read this I thought of a tough twister I know.
    How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?

    • That’s an AWESOME tongue twister, Christina! It’s what this Wonder of the Day® is based on! Thanks so much for being a GREAT Wonder Friend and visiting Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know you learned some cool facts about woodchucks today, Selina! We like your vein question a LOT! Keep your eyes open for a Wonder coming up in the near future that just might have something to do with what you’re WONDERing about! :-)

    • Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on woodchucks, Cheyenne! We appreciate you stopping by Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • We like your positive attitude, Elijah! Thanks for being a GREAT Wonder Friend and leaving us this SUPER comment! :-)

  8. Hi! I think woodchucks eat wood because they like to eat wood. I also think they eat wood to get rid of it. I like the things you people put on here. I shall be back!

    PEACE OUT, PEEPS

    • We’re so happy you like Wonderopolis and will visit us again soon, Tiarra! We really appreciate hearing that! Thanks for sharing what you think about woodchucks! :-)

    • Welcome to Wonderopolis, Cheyenne! We’re so happy that you visited this Wonder of the Day®! We hope you had fun learning about woodchucks today! :-)

  9. Hi, I thought that the video was funny, yet weird. But that’s not a bad thing!
    (P.S. My real name is Callie!!!!)

    • Thanks for letting us know what you thought about the video for this Wonder, Callie! We don’t think “weird” is a bad thing, either…sometimes it just means “different” and we like to learn about new and different things! :-)

  10. I think these videos are awesome! (sorry I didn’t want to use my name for the name part) :p) Anyways, I was wondering… will there ever be a wolf one? I LOVE wolves!

    • We’re really happy you enjoyed the video for this Wonder, Callie! We agree…Wendy the Woodchuck was super cute! :-)

  11. I think the video didn’t have to do with the question. Like, if you were talking about apples and then you video can’t be about squirrels. That is what I think.

    • Hello, Kenzize! We appreciate your opinion of the video we chose for today’s Wonder! Sometimes we select videos that explain the Wonder of the Day® a little more or work to expand thinking and creativity. Sometimes we choose videos that simply show kids (and adults) something fun related to that Wonder’s topic. We think Wendy the Woodchuck is a star! :-)

  12. Yeah, we really want a wolf one! Wait, do you guys even have wolf ones?????!!!!! So, please make one or if you already have one up then!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • We don’t have a Wonder specifically about wolves yet, Kirrin and Grace, but we appreciate the suggestion! We think it is a WONDERful idea for a future Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • We like that one a lot and think it is super fun to say, Alexia! Thanks so much for sharing your favorite tongue twister with us! :-)

  13. Hey wonderopolis, THANKS for the wooodchuck video! Those creatures can really chew! I’d hate to get bit by one of them, but they’re so CUTE!!!!!

    • We agree that they are GREAT chewers, Madalynn! Watching Wendy the Woodchuck in the video makes us think her teeth are sharp! Thank you for such a nice comment! :-)

  14. Hi Wonderopolis!
    This was a very good wonder. I have an idea for a wonder. Could you do a wonder on cancer? This is a topic I do not understand. It seems very scary to me.
    Thanks!!
    Food Allergy Girl

    • Thanks for your suggestion of a future Wonder of the Day® about cancer, Food Allergy Girl! Cancer is something that has touched the lives of many Wonder Friends. They would appreciate learning more about what it is and why it makes people sick.

  15. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Cool wonder! They don’t actually chuck wood. They just eat wood and make a weird noise when they do. There’s a tongue twister about woodchucker’s and here it is: how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? I think tomorrow’s wonder is about bugs.
    XOXOXOXOXO,
    Paige ;)

    • We hope you had a GREAT day, Paige! We know we did, and your comment made it even MORE Wonderful! Thanks for sharing that funny tongue twister…it’s an oldie but a goodie! :-)

    • Hi, Jaden! That’s a GREAT question! Woodchucks don’t really “chuck” wood. That’s just a clever saying that someone came up with to help them create the famous tongue twister about woodchucks! :-)

    • We think woodchucks are pretty cool, too, Smile22! Thanks so much for visiting Wonderopolis today and leaving us this GREAT comment! :-)

  16. Hey, wonderopolis. Thanks for today’s wonder! I was wondering if you had any wonders of the day about Eskimos? :)

  17. Hi, I am Johannah. I am wondering if wood chucks really chuck wood. Please reply back, thanks, and more about me…I am in grade 3. I am in Mrs. Poloski’s class. I am 9 years old and I live in Winnipeg Beach.

    • Thanks for sharing about yourself, Johannah! We enjoy learning about our Wonder Friends! We don’t think woodchucks really “chuck” (or throw) wood. We think that is just a saying someone came up with when he or she created that great tongue twister about woodchucks! :-)

  18. Hi Wonderopolis! I have known that woodchuck tongue twister for a while now, but I never really thought if woodchucks really do eat wood. In the video is the woodchuck eating wood? Do woodchucks NORMALLY eat wood? I don’t get how the Indian words for woodchuck sound anything like the word woodchuck. Can you help me see that? I always say a third verse to the end of the woodchuck tongue twister. It doesn’t really make sense but it’s fun to say. :) It is: It would chuck what wood what it could chuck wood if a wood chuck could chuck wood.

    • We like that third verse to the tongue twister, Team Wilch #14! Thanks so much for sharing it with us today! We think Wendy the Woodchuck in the video might be snacking on a walnut or a pecan. You can see her munch through the outer shell and finally find the treat inside. :-)

    • We’re so glad to hear that you liked this Wonder, Alexia! We hope you learned some new things about woodchucks! :-)

  19. Hi, I’m so sorry about the comment, lots of love. :):):):):):):):)::):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):)

    • Thanks so much, Constance! We appreciate your apology very much! We hope you will keep visiting Wonderopolis and leaving us nice comments! :-)

    • Thanks for letting us know you watched the video for this Wonder of the Day®, Malik! We think that ROCKS! :-)

  20. Hi

    I think that is interesting that the name wood chuck came from the Indians. I really like the tongue twister for woodchucks. Thanks for making me wonder

    Team Clark 19 :) :) :)

    • You’re welcome for helping you WONDER, Team Clark 19…thanks for making us SMILE with your comment and smiley faces! :-)

  21. Hello! I learned new things about the woodchuck.It was a fun story
    and interesting story to learn.I would never have thought about woodchucks until i read this i never thought about a woodchuck and the facts about them.:0

    • We’re so happy you picked this Wonder to explore today, Team Wilch 23! We think woodchucks are AWESOME, and we’re glad you do, too! :-)

    • Hi, Shay! We think it’s GREAT that you thought today’s Wonder was AWESOME! We think YOU are an AWESOME Wonder Friend for letting us know that! :-)

    • That sounds like a very colorful breakfast, Shay! Thanks for sharing your creative culinary tastes with us today! :-)

    • We just like WONDERing about lots of things, Shay! It’s a fun way to learn and share! Thanks for visiting Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Thanks for sharing how you feel about this Wonder of the Day®, Shay! We appreciate your opinion and your comment! :-)

    • Hi, Ana! Thanks for visiting this Wonder and THANKS for leaving us this GREAT comment to let us know how much you like woodchucks! We think they are awesome, too! :-)

  22. Dear Wonderopolis,
    Why did you wonder about this? More importantly, I enjoyed this wonder because tongue twisters are fun and I like animals.
    But mostly we all wonder the same things, but never think about them until they are brought up. So, to me it was kind of cool learning while it is fun (school is a different story). Thanks for reading my response!

    • It’s AWESOME that you like tongue twisters and animals, Team McNeil 15! We weren’t the only ones who WONDERed if woodchucks really chuck wood…this Wonder was suggested by a WONDERful Wonder Friend just like YOU who likes to learn while having FUN! Thanks so much for visiting Wonderopolis…we appreciate your comment! :-)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Do woodchucks really chuck wood?
  • What are some other names for woodchucks?
  • What is a tongue twister?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Ready to test your tongue with some of the top tongue-twisters known to man? Tongue twisters can be tons of fun, especially when you challenge your friends and family members to a duel.

Practice on some of the tongue twisters below and then see if you can talk the talk and twist your tongue faster than everyone else!

  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
    Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?
    If Peter Piper Picked a peck of pickled peppers,
    Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
    The shells she sells are surely seashells.
    So if she sells shells on the seashore,
    I’m sure she sells seashore shells.
  • A skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk,
    but the stump thunk the skunk stunk.
  • Imagine an imaginary menagerie manager
    imagining managing an imaginary menagerie.
  • A tutor who tooted the flute
    Tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
    Said the two to the tutor:
    “Is it harder to toot or
    To tutor two tooters to toot?”

Do you have a favorite tongue twister? Feel free to share it with us on Facebook or Twitter. We can’t wait to give it a try!

 

Still Wondering

In ReadWriteThink’s Alliteration All Around lesson, children learn about alliteration, and then practice using alliteration in acrostic poems, tongue twisters, alphabet books and number books.

 

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