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Groundhog Day Trivia

Groundhog Day Trivia

In honor of Groundhog Day this week, here’s some fun trivia about North America’s second favorite weather prognosticator:

- Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are a type of marmot, large rodents related to squirrels.

- Groundhogs have a large habitat, extending throughout most of North America, from Alaska, as far south as Alabama.

- In the wild, groundhogs usually live two to three years, but have been known to live up to six years. In captivity, they can live much longer. The original Wiarton Willie — one of Canada’s most famous prognosticating groundhogs — lived to be 22 years old.

- Groundhogs are typically 16-26 inches long, and weigh 4-9 pounds.

- Groundhogs actually have two coats of fur: a thick, wooly, grey undercoat and a longer coat of silky brownish hairs. This helps to keep them warm throughout the year.

- Groundhogs prefer to eat wild grasses, leaves, berries, and — as any gardener who’s ever had one around knows — food crops. They will also occasionally eat nuts, insects, grubs, snails, and other small animals.

- The average groundhog moves approximately 710 pounds of dirt when digging its burrow. Burrows can be up to 46 feet long and up to 5 feet underground.

- Groundhogs hibernate during the winter, usually between October and March or April, depending on the climate.

- If in danger, a groundhog will produce a high-pitched alarm whistle to warn the rest of its family. This is how they got the nickname “whistle-pig” in some regions. Other groundhog sounds include squeals, barks, and tooth grinding.

- There is actually more than one weather forecasting groundhog in North America. Some of the most famous include Punxsutawney Phil in Punxsutawney, Pa., Wiarton Willie in Wiarton, Ontario, Staten Island Chuck in New York City, General Beauregard Lee in Atlanta, Ga., Malverne Mel and Melissa in Malverne, N.Y., Brandon Bob in Brandon, Manitoba, Balzac Billy in Balzac, Alberta, Shubenacadie Sam in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, Gary the Groundhog in Kleinburg, Ontario, Spanish Joe of Spanish, Ontario, Sir Walter Wally in Raleigh, N.C., Pardon Me Pete in Tampa, Fl., Jimmy the Groundhog in Sun Prairie, Wisc., and Octoraro Orphie in Quarryville, Pa.

12 comments

1 Mandy { 02.01.13 at 6:38 pm }

Punxsutawney Phil Live at the Library IN Punxy Pa. we are to have a snow storm tomorrow on ground hog day soo the litte critter should see his shadow. I live about 30 miles form him lol

2 Joycee { 02.06.11 at 10:42 am }

Wellllll, I live in the Heartland and right now we have 8-10 inches of snow on the ground right now. My car was in a 4 foot snow drift when it was dug out Wednesday. I have always believed that nature will give you the most accurate forcast if you are aware of the critters around you. Watch the birds, the squirrels etc. They all seem to know what is going to happen. You just have to learn to read them.

3 angelbaby63 { 02.02.11 at 10:54 pm }

Snowlover – Punxsutawney Phil emerged just after dawn on Groundhog Day to make his 125th annual weather forecast

Including Wednesday’s forecast, Phil has seen his shadow 98 times and hasn’t seen it just 16 times since 1887, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle, which runs the event.

The Groundhog Day celebration is rooted in a German superstition that says if a hibernating animal casts a shadow on Feb. 2, the Christian holiday of Candlemas, winter will last another six weeks. If no shadow was seen, legend said spring would come early.

In reality, Pennsylvania’s prophetic rodent doesn’t see much of anything. The result is actually decided in advance by 14 members of the Inner Circle, who don tuxedos and top hats for the event.

Article can be found at – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110202/ap_on_re_us/us_groundhog_day

4 Tiarr { 02.02.11 at 5:52 pm }

You forgot Buckeye Chuck in Ohio.

5 PeeWee { 02.02.11 at 5:12 pm }

It doesn’t matter whether he sees his shadow or not spring is still six weeks away.

6 Terry Roberts { 02.02.11 at 2:55 pm }

Well Phil did not see his shadow so how long till warm up? But my good question is does his forecast cover the whole u.s.a.? I live in northwest missouri, it was sunny here, so he would have seen his shadow. How does this thing work..:)

7 chris { 02.02.11 at 11:46 am }

hey if he sees his shadow fine because my boy will not see his shadow

8 Fabio Goncalves { 02.02.11 at 11:09 am }

I lived in the United States for quite sometime. I remember how people lived up to Groundhog Day, and truly believed in, more or less winter depending on the little animal’s attitude. This is one of Americans beliefs, and I think of it as part of North American Culture. Never let it be fogotten. Fabio Goncalves

9 Jaime McLeod { 02.02.11 at 10:54 am }

No shadow, so the groundhog says “early spring.” We disagree, though. Check out our Long Range Forecast.

10 kaydub { 02.02.11 at 10:37 am }

so whats the groundhog forecast? early spring or more winter?

11 Jaime McLeod { 02.02.11 at 10:27 am }

Snowlover – This story from last year should answer your question: Six More Weeks of Winter?

12 snowlover { 02.02.11 at 9:45 am }

How long ago did the groundhogs began to be forecasters of early or non early springs? Nice article. It’s nice to learn something new everyday!

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