Creature Feature: Wendy the Woodchuck


Wendy is one of my favorite animals at the museum, and since she has been mentioned in other posts I decided to feature her this month. There’s a lot that can be said about this big gentle rodent, but what the keepers know her best for is her mischevious behavior.

Wendy came to us in March of 2004 from Dan Nicholas Park in Salisbury, North Carolina. She was already an adult when she arrived at their facility, so we do not know how old she is. The reason why Wendy cannot live in the wild is because she is completely blind, but she gets around very well in her exhibit and on our animal support hall where we let her run around and get exercise. The time that she spends out of her exhibit when we are not open to the public is where she gets into the most trouble, and we have to keep a close eye on her when she is exploring!

In the picture to the right, Wendy is hanging out on one of the large tall tree trunks in her exhibit. Despite not having any vision, she climbs very well. In fact, we added large trees to her exhibit to help deter her from scaling the fake rock, which is rather difficult and unsafe for her to climb down from once she gets to the top.

Of course, being a woodchuck means that she wants to chew everything she comes in contact with. It is actually necessary for rodents to chew things because their teeth never stop growing! So if we did not give Wendy plenty of wood and cardboard boxes to destroy, her teeth would grow to the point that she would not be able to eat anymore, along with other serious health problems.

Her fur looks like it would be rather course, but she is actually quite soft to the touch. She also has big feet, which she would use to dig in the dirt and make large burrows in the wild where she would sleep. Her wide stubby nose also helps her to push around and shift the dirt. We use mulch in her exhibit, which she digs in and moves around to make herself a comfortable bed.

Wendy is a pretty picky eater, but the foods that she enjoys the most are nuts (peanuts being her favorite), bananas, corn, brocolli and cauliflower. She also loves peanut butter, which she gets occassionally as enrichment or to sometimes help administer medication.

Below are some pictures of Wendy getting into a bag of sani-chips that we keep on a shelf in the support hall to use as enrichment. If this doesn’t have guilt written all over it, what does?! You can also check out a post about Wendy hibernating in the winter, or read a post about her stealing invoices from Sherry where there’s also a funny video of her stuffing newspaper in her mouth. Also, check out a picture of a close marmot relative to Wendy that Kristen took at Yellowstone National Park.

3 responses to Creature Feature: Wendy the Woodchuck

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    Katy says:

    you should see what she can do to a bag of pinecones…or the trouble she gets into in the vet room!!!! Nice post.

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