Whether or not a groundhog deserve to predict weather is questionable, yet this pet has other features that do it an interesting member that Missouri’s wildlife world.This is the time of year as soon as this well-known mammal becomes a newsmaker because of Groundhog job on February 2. This, that course, is the annual tradition the if Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pa. Sees his shadow, there will be six much more weeks of winter. If the day is cloudy, the succeeding weather is claimed to be mild.It’s assumed the Groundhog job legend probably originated v German inhabitants who came to the Pennsylvania area in the 17th and also 18th centuries. Among the European individual tales these settlers likely brought with them to be the id that mammals prefer hedgehogs and also badgers to be weather prophets. Another belief lugged from Europe was the if the sunlight shone on Candlemas job – which was February 2 – it meant six an ext weeks that wintry weather. It appears these two bits the folklore came to be entwined end the years and by the late 1800s, Groundhog job had end up being an annual event in the joined States.Moving from folklore to truth brings us to Marmota monax, the animal we generally call the groundhog, woodchuck and sometimes, whistlepig. This relatively big rodent (usually five to 10 pounds) is yellowish-brown to brown in color. Groundhogs are basically herbivores (plant eaters), eating the vegetative parts of plants. Favorite foods include grasses, forbs, clover, leaves of sassafras and also other trees and also numerous herbs. Groundhogs additionally have a taste for farm crops; especially alfalfa, planted clover, corn, oats and assorted fruits and also vegetables.When alarmed, a woodchuck gives a loud, shrill whistle (thus the name “whistlepig”). Groundhogs also grind their teeth or chatter when cornered.A groundhog household has an secret burrow system regularly composed of several entrances, tunnels and chambers. The main entrance is typically located in ~ a tree stump or rock and is usually conspicuous since of a pile of freshly excavated dirt and rocks in front. This tunnels deserve to be fairly extensive, periodically stretching much more than 40 feet and also including multiple side entrances and chambers. Here’s a entirely worthless – yet amazing – groundhog fact that mirrors how substantial a groundhog’s burrow is and, in ~ the same time, answers the age-old question: “How lot wood might a woodchuck lining if a woodchuck can chuck wood?” If by “chucking wood” you mean moving wood, the prize is around 700 pounds. A biologist once measured the inside volume of a groundhog burrow and estimated the if a woodchuck would certainly fill this space with wood, it would equal around 700 pounds. One of the many fascinating characteristics of a groundhog is hibernation. Uneven some animals which merely go into stages of short-term inactivity in winter, groundhogs are true hibernators. In the fall (usually about October), groundhogs go into a torpid state in your underground burrows and also rely solely on body fat to endure the winter. During hibernation, a groundhog’s heartbeat slowly from an ext than 100 beats every minute come as few as 15. Its body temperature autumn to in between 43 and also 57 levels Fahrenheit. When hibernating, a groundhog rolls itself into a ball and also tucks the head between its hind legs.Groundhogs instinctually recognize when to wake up, but actual development from their dens relies somewhat top top weather. This emergence may take place as soon as beforehand February, yet if the weather is severely cold, they might not appear until the middle of the month.Because of its digging and also its appetite for garden vegetables and some farming crops, groundhogs can end up being pests because that landowners. Missouri has a groundhog season the runs from the day after the near of feather turkey season through December 15. Over there is no bag border or possession limit. For an ext information about groundhogs, or to manage groundhog-related problems, contact your nearest Missouri department of conservation office or call person.Information around groundhogs can additionally be found at your nearest Missouri room of conservation office or at mdc.mo.gov. Francis Skalicky is the media specialist because that the Missouri department of Conservation’s Southwest Region. For much more information around conservation issues, contact 417-895-6880.

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