Saturday 2 February 2013

Woodchucks, Whistle-Pigs, Land Beavers & Marmots

Here are ten things you may not know about the groundhog to commemorate Groundhog Day:

1.  They are also known as woodchucks, whistle-pigs, land beavers and marmots.  Woodchucks did not carry wood, however.  The name comes from the Algonquin term "wuchak".

2.  The male and female occupy the same territories year after year.  However, they make a special winter burrow to hibernate in during the cold months.

3.  Babies are born in April and generally stay with their moms for 3 months.  Thirty-five percent stay for a full year until the next litter arrives.

4.  One adult males usually mates with two females.

5.  Groundhogs are a good study model for Hepatitis B which causes liver cancer.

6.  Marmots can climb trees.

7.  Land beavers have a variation on the Eskimo kiss:  they kiss nose to mouth.

8.  There are 14 species of marmot in the Northern Hemisphere.

9.  Woodchucks eat grass, berries, crops, grubs, grasshoppers and insects.

10.  The whistle-pig makes a sound like a pig when it gets alarmed.

Bonus:  Robert Frost's poem "A Drumlin Woodchuck" is one of his most popular pieces.

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