The Groundhog: Alright…look…there is all sorts of stuff about the Groundhog and how he got his own day. Most accounts I see take it back to German tradition but I’ve also seen suggestions it goes back to the Gregorian calendar and all sorts of things. In other words, there doesn’t seem to be any consensus. The tale of course is that if the Groundhog sees his shadow, he gets scared, runs back into his hole and there are 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, then there will be an early spring. So, if it’s sunny, its bad and if its cloudy then its good. Keep in mind that meteorologically, Spring starts a little more than 6 weeks after Groundhog Day.
But, I found out more about the groundhog. It’s really a rodent in the squirrel family. Also known as the infamous woodchuck of how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood fame. It’s also known as a land beaver or whistlepig. The ground hog typically has a 2 to 3 year lifespan but if its in an area without many predators like wolves, bears, hawks, coyotes and bobcats then it can live up to 6 years in the wild or 10 years in captivity.
Now, he doesn’t have a long life so he makes the most of it. A groundhog can dig up to 700 pounds of dirt digging just one den. And the guy can dig up to 5 dens. I suppose that means that he is not necessarily a one woman man….because if he’s got 5 dens then he’s got 5 families! Scandalous….that groundhog! Of course, I’m not sure who does the digging the male or the female so perhaps the guy is also a slacker and makes the woman do the digging while he is off visiting of his other dens. It’s possible this groundhog may be a deadbeat.
Well, please don’t take out your displeasure on the poor little guy…though he can get kinda big and fat. He eats plants and things and if he’s in an area with lots of alfalfa and its safe, he can get as big as 32 inches and weigh up to 30 pounds….or about the size of my fat cats. If you chase him he’s got great claws for all of that digging and is also an excellent climber. Corner him on a lake and he will swim away as he is quite comfortable in the water. And if you try to ponk him on the head, it won’t do much because he has an extra dense cranial bone.
Let’s leave the groundhog alone! A Canadian study found that different places use a number of different groundhogs for monitoring. There were 13 in the study, including Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania and General Lee in Atlanta. The study found that collectively they only had a 37% accuracy rate. I certainly do not advocate any untoward behaviour against my competitors that don’t quite measure up to our standards. No, just leave the groundhog alone and let him do what he does best….which apparently is not forecasting. Let him live his life scandalous life in peace.