Click here to learn more.
“This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.” —Phil Conners, Groundhog Day
Our friend Marmota Monax — better known as the groundhog — is one of the most legendary rodents in North America. Roaming a swath of territory extending from Alaska to Alabama, the humble groundhog is held responsible each year for predicting the start of spring (or the end of winter, depending on your perspective). Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil is perhaps the most well-known meteorological marmot; each year, on Feb. 2, tens of thousands of people wait patiently for the sleepy ground squirrel to emerge from his burrow and either lament the cloudy day or be startled by his own shadow. The former is said to mean an early spring is imminent, while the latter supposedly signals six more weeks of dreary winter weather.
Although the groundhog finds himself in the spotlight once a year, he's not hard to find the other 364 days. Ubiquitous in the backyards, highway medians and fields of nearly half the United States and most of Canada, groundhogs can often be a nuisance to homeowners and farmers.
It’s fairly easy to tell if a family of groundhogs has taken up residence on your property. Often they make little effort to conceal themselves — groundhogs can commonly be found out in the open, sunning themselves in a patch of grass or atop a fence post. Or they may leave clues behind, such as chewed wood or plants, with tooth markings that are similar to that of a rabbit, but larger.
Groundhogs, like most pets and people, are active during the day and retreat to their burrows for a good night’s sleep. But the groundhog takes his sleep more seriously than we do: The bristly herbivores are true hibernators, meaning they bulk up in the fall and sleep from roughly October to March. While the groundhog will occasionally snack on a grub or other smallish insect, for the most part they rely on grasses, fruits and nuts to give them a rich fat reserve that will last through the coldest months of winter.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Firefighters saved Ashley the Lab from a
fire in her home and resuscitated her
using a pet oxygen mask.
We asked trainer Bill Berloni how he
prepared a 6-year-old rescue pup for her
debut role as Sandy in the Annie…
Think big dogs are more aggressive? Or
that they can’t live in apartments? We’re
here to dispel these…
While it’s likely to unleash a feline frenzy,
giving your cat too much of the ‘nip is not
something you need to…
From the water-loving Portuguese Water
Dog to the fetch-obsessed Labrador
Retriever, these breeds love to have fun.
In his home country of Thailand, the intelligent and attention-loving Korat is a living symbol of luck and prosperity.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.