- They may live in the ground, but they’re certainly not hogs. They’re rodents. Members of a class of ground squirrels called marmots (Marmota Monax), and the largest members of the squirrel family. They are giant squirrels. Groundhogs are also known as whistle pigs (because they alert their colonies to threats by whistling), land beavers (because look like beavers), mouse bears (because they look like tiny bears with mouse faces when they stand up) and woodchucks.
- Average lifespan of groundhogs in the wild is 3-6 years.
- Groundhogs are found in the majority of central and eastern United States, as well as in parts of Alaska and Canada.
- Groundhogs eat approximately 1/3 of their weight in vegetation each day. Although they are considered herbivores, they sometimes eat insects. In the summer and fall groundhogs increase their consumption to accumulate fat reserves, which they use to survive through their winter hibernation period. Their favourite foods are apples, beans, peas, carrot tops, clover, dandelions, flowers, garden vegetables, bark.
- Groundhog teeth never stop growing.
- Groundhogs are active during the day from spring to fall. Most activity occurs during the early morning and early evening hours, at which groundhogs emerge from their burrows to gather food.
- Groundhogs are serious hibernators, they sleep for up to three months.
- Groundhogs can climb trees and swim.
- Groundhogs unlike squirrels, have curved spines. This makes their skeletons more like the mole’s. This evolutionary trait is to support all the digging they do.
- Groundhogs can move over 5,550 pounds of dirt digging one burrow.
- Even though groundhogs love open wooden areas, they prefer to spend their time in the safety of their burrows. A single groundhog burrow has 2-5 entrances, is 5 feet underground, and can have up to 50 feet of tunnels in it. Moving all of that dirt out from one area poses a serious threat to the structural integrity of any building foundations that are near the burrow. And to any farm equipment that may be sitting on top of it.
- Groundhog babies are born hairless and blind. Mothers give birth to 2-4 kits, and these baby woodchucks remain with the mother for 2 months before becoming independent.
- Groundhogs are helping us find cures for liver cancer.Groundhogs are extremely useful for studying the effects of, and possible cures to, both hepatitis-B and liver cancer.
- Groundhogs are in no danger of becoming extinct.
- Groundhog Day is on the second of February. Groundhogs can’t actually predict weather. In the last 15 years, groundhogs have only correctly predicted the weather 4 times. In fact, the only reason people think groundhogs can do this is thanks to an old folk legend: apparently, a settler in early Punxsutawney remembered a story from the old country about beavers predicting weather and thought any beaver-like animal could do the same thing. And since the groundhog looked like a land beaver… well, the rest is history.
OMG! I am so suprised to know that Groundhogs are the largest members of the squirrel family! And one more interesting fact – my father’s birthday is on the same date as Groundhog day!