February 2 is Groundhog Day and we are here to provide you with some cool facts about groundhogs so that you can impress your friends at your next Groundhog Day party. In the US, Groundhog Day was adopted as early as in 1887, which makes it a traditional holiday that has been increasingly popular in recent years. To find out more about this special day and groundhogs in general, check out these 25 Odd Facts About Groundhogs To Keep You Entertained.
The groundhog has a number of other names and nicknames. It is also referred to as a chuck, wood-shock, ground-pig, whistle-pig, whistler, thickwood badger, Canada marmot, wood-chuck, monax, moonack, weenusk, and red monk.
According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on the Groundhog Day, then the spring season will arrive early. If it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, and winter weather will persist for six more weeks.
The groundhog typically measures 40 to 65 cm (16 to 26 in) long (including tail) and weigh 2 to 4 kg (4 to 9 lb) but in areas with fewer natural predators and large amounts of food, they can grow to 80 cm (30 in) and 14 kg (31 lb).
Groundhogs are often hunted for sport and they have many natural predators such as wolves, cougars, coyotes, foxes, bears, eagles, and dogs but their great ability to reproduce quickly has tended to mitigate these depopulating effects.
Punxsutawney Phil is the most famous groundhog in the US. Individuals from this succession of groundhogs in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania are used to predict the arrival of spring. As of 2016, Punxsutawney Phil has made 129 predictions, which have proven correct 39% of the time.
There is a movie that was inspired by the Groundhog Day. Named “Groundhog Day”, it is a 1993 American fantasy-comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott.
Groundhog’s burrows have multiple exits and chambers. They also have different purposes – some are for hibernating while others are more like their summer homes where the animals can come out more easily.
Groundhog burrows have been known to reveal at least one archaeological site, the Ufferman Site in Ohio. Although archaeologists have never excavated the Ufferman Site, many valuable artifacts have been found there because of the activities of local groundhogs.
Groundhogs have to know exactly when to wake up from hibernation to reproduce. If they miss the short mating window, babies born too early won’t have enough food while those born too late won’t be able to gain enough weight for winter.
The groundhog is one of just a few animal species that go into true hibernation. True hibernators are the ones that can reduce their body temp below 20 degrees Celsius (68 F). Hibernating bears, for example, only drop their body temp to 30 degrees (86 F) from 37 degrees Celsius (99 F).
Some US states use their own groundhogs to celebrate the Groundhog Day rather than relying on Phil. Other weather oracles include General Beau Lee of Atlanta, Georgia, Sir Walter Wally from Raleigh, North Carolina, and Birmingham Bill from Birmingham, Alabama.
During New York City's annual Groundhog Day event at the Staten Island Zoo on February 2, 2009, a groundhog named Chuck drew blood when biting Mayor Michael Bloomberg's gloved finger while Bloomberg was trying to lure Chuck out of his wooden shelter.