Today is Groundhog Day, but do you know the real reason the groundhog wakes up from its winter hibernation? It’s not really to see its shadow. Find out the true story!

More Groundhog Trivia:


  • Groundhogs are rodents in the Sciuridae (squirrel) family that go by several other names including woodchuck and whistlepig.
  • The name woodchuck comes from a Cree Indian word, wuchak, which was used for several different animals of similar size and color, including other marmots.
  • This very vocal animal carries the nickname “whistle-pig” for the various hisses, squeals, growls, barks and teeth chattering noises it emits.
  • How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Based on the typical burrow a woodchuck digs, a scientist at Cornell University estimated the answer would be close to 700 pounds.
  • The elaborate architecture of a woodchuck burrow with lengths of 20-30 feet, include spy-holes, a toilet chamber, nest and nursery.
  • During hibernation, the body temperature of a woodchuck drops from 97°F (36°C) to less than 40°F (4°C). Its breathing slows to once every six minutes, and its heartbeat slows from 100 beats per minute to four.
  • Groundhog Day developed from the European tradition of Imbolc and Candlemas Day, marking the day between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. On that date, good weather meant more winter was on the way, bad weather meant the end of the cold season. This tradition was first linked to the appearance of the groundhog February 2, 1886, when Punxsutawney Spirit editor Clymer Freas reported the furry creature had not seen his shadow, thus an early spring was in the forecast.
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Published: February 2, 2008