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Groundhog facts for Groundhog Day
Every February 2, people across the country anxiously await the groundhog's weather forecast. Should the groundhog see his shadow, it is six more weeks of winter. If the shadow goes unseen, spring will arrive ahead of schedule. For some, Groundhog Day is the only time a person actually lays eyes on the animal doing the prognosticating. But there's more to groundhogs than their ability to forecast the weather.
• Groundhogs do little in that burrow during their winter rest. They go into profound hibernation, where their metabolic rates and their body temperatures drop considerably. Many groundhogs begin to come out of hibernation naturally around early- to mid-February. The groundhogs that make it on television for Groundhog Day may get an earlier wake-up call.
• The scientific name of the groundhog is Marmota monax. Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are closely related to squirrels and actually can climb trees and swim.
• Groundhogs are herbivores, mostly feeding on whatever plant material they can find. Because they like crops, many farmers view them as pests. On occasion, groundhogs will scavenge for and eat insects.
• The burrows made by the animals have several chambers and different entrances and exits. It may be challenging to find a groundhog's entry point to your yard as a result.
• On average, a groundhog will live between 3 to 6 years in the wild. In captivity, a groundhog can live to around age 10.
• A wildlife biologist once measured the inside volume of a typical woodchuck burrow. It was estimated that if the hole was filled with wood shavings instead of dirt, that woodchuck could chuck about 700 pounds' worth of wood.
• Groundhogs are often mistaken for other animals. In fact, the "gopher" that was seen in the film "Caddyshack" was actually a groundhog.
• A groundhog can produce a high-pierced whistle when frightened, which has earned it the nickname "whistlepig."
• Groundhog fur is not particularly thick or warm, so the animal has never really been prized for its coat for clothing.