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Happy Groundhog Day! Groundhog History and Facts

You think you know all about the groundhog?  I am a geek when it comes to trivia and info on goofy stuff like this…so here we go!

Archie Carpenter, Getty Images/Buckeye Chuck, Facebook/Balzac Billy/Staten Island Chuck, Facebook/Shari Chambers, Wikimedia Commons

Groundhog Day 2012: Punxsutawney Phil’s decision is here! Do you believe that Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions can be accurate? The Groundhog Day experts at Wikipedia, proponents claim the furry creatures’ forecasts are accurate 75% to 90% of the time. However, the National Climatic Data Center puts the accuracy rate at around 39%.

An old belief that if the sun shines on Candlemas Day, or if the groundhog sees his shadow when he emerges on February 2, six weeks of winter will ensue. To see a shadow the sun must be shinning and the groundhog has to look in the correct direction.

Groundhog, woodchuck — what’s the difference? Woodchuck and groundhog are common terms for the same animal, the rodent with the scientific name of Marmota monax. Most closely related to squirrels, woodchucks actually can climb trees and also swim.

Celestially speaking, Groundhog Day on Feb. 2 is a “cross-quarter” day, about halfway between the winter solstice in December and the ver nal equinox in March, and is celebrated in some cultures as the mid point of winter. It’s not far from the time many groundhogs end their hi bernation anyway, around the second week of February.

Groundhogs in the wild eat succulent green plants, such as dandelion greens, clover, plantain and grasses. They also are tempted by nearby gar den vegetables. At Cornell, they dine on Agway Woodchuck Chow, a similar formulation to rabbit feed but in larger-sized pellets. Woodchucks binge and purposefully put on weight in the summer, reaching their maxi mum mass in late August. They become lethargic and prepare for hiber nation in October. By February, hibernating woodchucks have lost as much as half their body weight.

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