Wednesday, February 2, 2011

10 Things To Know About Groundhogs

From National Wildlife Federation

The groundhog, also known as the woodchuck or the mouse bear (because it looks like a miniature bear when sitting upright), first won its reputation as a weather prognosticator in 1886, when the editor of western Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Spirit newspaper, one Clymer Freas, published a report that local groundhogs had not seen their shadows that day, signaling an early spring.

© 2006 Donna L. Watkins - Groundhog in Charlottesville

This story begat Punxsutawney Phil, the legendary woodchuck weathercreature, which begat Ground Hog Day and the familiar idea that Phil (and his namesake successors down through the years) can predict the perpetuation of winter.

It is likely that the story of Phil is based on European beliefs that badgers and hedgehogs can provide signals about the future; lacking those species in his area, old Clymer substituted the local animal that most resembles a badger or a hedgehog.

But the groundhog is much more than a weather rodent. It’s also a real animal with a real life.  Here are 10 things you may not know about this roly-poly rodent.

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