Happy Groundhogs Day! In the US on February 2 we celebrate Groundhogs Day. But what on Earth is it and why do we celebrate it today?
February 2nd is about halfway through winter. That’s why it’s the day we see if a furry creature called a groundhog is afraid of his shadow or not. It sounds very silly and it really is. Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who is the star of the show, lives in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Supposedly, when Phil comes out of his burrow on this day, if he sees his shadow, he will go back into his home and wait six more weeks of winter to pass. If he doesn’t see his shadow, that means spring is right around the corner. This always perplexed me personally. If he can see his shadow, doesn’t that mean the sun is out? You’d think the sun is an indication of spring being close, not more winter. But alas, I am not an expert on groundhog logic.
Teeth for Days
Groundhogs, also called woodchucks, of the famous tongue-twister, are rodents. The reason these animals chew on wood is to keep their front teeth short. Unlike us, their front teeth keep growing. If they didn’t file them down by gnawing on wood, they would keep growing and become a real problem. They aren’t actually eating the wood, instead, they eat grasses, berries, nuts, incests, grub, and snails.
Groundhogs are fancy, they enjoy fine escargot and create large underground mansions called burrows. These homes can be 5-6 car lengths long. That’s bigger than most people’s homes! They are so sophisticated, for a rodent, they even build a separate room for their bathroom.
Sleeping through Winter
Groundhogs hibernate. During winter, they rest in their burrow. During this time (October to March) they don’t eat, so they survive by lowering their heart rate and temperature, allowing them to use less of the stored energy they collected during the fall. So, if he sees his shadow on February 2nd, he must have gotten up too early.
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