Everyone knows that Groundhog Day is February 2nd every year. You know Punxsutawney Phil and his weather prediction. But there is a whole lot more to know about Groundhogs.
The tradition, of course, is for the Groundhog’s handlers to bring Phil out on February 2nd at sunrise and if he sees his shadow it’s supposed to mean 6 more weeks of winter weather, and if he does not see his shadow, it’s supposed to mean an early spring.
But do you really know about Groundhogs? Did you know they are actually male woodchucks? The answer to how much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood, is actually close to 700 pounds.
Groundhogs can end up almost two feet long counting their tails. They are known to have sharp claws and long incisor teeth. The groundhog’s life span is around 5 years on average.
These animals are herbivores(plant eaters). They feed mostly on grass, seeds, leaves, flowers, fruit, eggs, and some insects.
Groundhogs are hunted by many, including wolves, dogs, coyotes, bobcats, foxes, and of course humans. They are not fast movers so they depend a lot on their terrific eyesight and hearing. It gives them more time to retreat into their underground burrows, which can be 20 to 30 feet in length.
These creatures hibernate or sleep during the winter months. Their body temperature during this time drops from 97 degrees to less than 40 degrees. Their heartbeat slows from approximately 100 beats per minute to around 4 beats per minute when asleep.
Now groundhogs can be “Players” when it comes to the opposite sex. According to researchers, groundhogs wake up typically in early February from their winters sleep and seek out a female in the area. They get acquainted with mainly small talk as a kind of the first date. The thing is, these “players” do this with several females the same way. While he is meeting and getting to know several females, things at this point do not progress past the casual and friendly relationship.
After checking in with the girls, this little dude goes back to sleep for about another month until March. After the extra nap, he wakes up for the season and goes back to see the girlfriends he met in February. These meetings are much more serious than the get-acquainted meetings from the previous month. Miraculously a few months later there are baby groundhogs running around the area.
The experts say this dating habit is unique to groundhogs, and not found in any other animals.
And that may be a good thing.
So you see there is a whole lot more to groundhogs than just predicting the weather.