Dear Dr. Boli: Someone asked me a question I haven’t been able to answer, and it’s really been eating at me. I usually have an answer for everything. I can recite the square root of two to as many decimal places as you have patience for; I can list all the politicians of both parties who are part of the Odd Fellows conspiracy; I know which fork to use for chutney; I speak fluent Quechua. But this one question has me flummoxed. Here it is; and you must pay close attention, because it is almost fiendishly intricate: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if (hypothetically speaking) a woodchuck could chuck wood? —Sincerely, M. Beeson Hummock, Marshall-Shadeland.

Dear Sir: The anatomy of the common groundhog or woodchuck (Marmota monax) is not adapted to throwing objects at all. In this these animals differ from their cousins the tree squirrels, which can bean a target with an acorn at fifty yards. If, hypothetically, a groundchuck did chuck wood, therefore, it would be because some charitable soul, perhaps taking pity on the animal’s relative defenselessness, had provided it with some sort of chucking machine, such as a trebuchet. A trebuchet would be a fairly simple weapon for a woodhog to operate, presuming that the charitable donor had armed it beforehand; it could be held back by a rope, which the hogchuck might easily bite through when it became necessary to launch the payload, which, in this case, is wood. According to historians, the largest medieval trebuchets were capable of launching missiles weighing up to four hundred pounds; we may take that amount as the practical limit of a trebuchet’s payload, and answer your question by saying that if, hypothetically, a woodchuck could chuck wood, having been provided with that capability by an animal-loving donor, then it could probably chuck four hundred pounds of the stuff at a time without rearming.


  1. RepubAnon says:

    When trebuchets are outlawed, only woodchucks will have trebuchets…

  2. Joseph Moore says:

    See: Marmota Monax and Forest Product Propulsion: How Much Wood Could a Woodchuck Chuck? in the Proceeding of the American Society for Sciuridae Interdiction and Suppression Awareness, Pollock Pines chapter, vol 233, for the definitive study. This paper is, unfortunately, not yet available in Quechua.

  3. Captain DaFt says:

    From Cornell University
    ( ):

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

    About 700 pounds. Compared to beavers, groundhogs/woodchucks are not adept at moving timber, although some will chew wood. (At Cornell, woodchucks that gnaw their wooden nest boxes are given scraps of 2-by-4 lumber.) A wildlife biologist once measured the inside volume of a typical woodchuck burrow and estimated that — if wood filled the hole instead of dirt — the industrious animal would have chucked about 700 pounds’ worth.

    Dr. Boli has also ignored the potential of the Chinese repeating crossbow.

    Assuming a rather weak one with a pull of only ten pounds, The average 13 pound woodchuck could use its weight to push down the lever, and fire the weapon as long as there were wooden bolts in its hopper.

    Thus the answer could be:
    It’d chuck as much wood as its repeating crossbow’s hopper could hold if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

  4. Enrestin DeForrest says:

    This also begs the question, if a woodchuck could chuck wood, what socio-political-economic conditions would have to exist to motivate it to do so?

  5. Could this solution be related to the problem posed by Kelly: “How much ground would a ground hog hog if a ground hog was round ground?”

  6. David says:

    “Per hour (median amount): 158 butt cords.
    Per day: 684 butt cords.
    Per month: 20748 butt cords.
    Per year (assuming 364 days – Woodchucks take Groundhog Day off):
    248976 butt cords.”

    Found here.

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