Sunday is Groundhog Day. And as the legend goes, if a groundhog sees his shadow, we'll have six more weeks of winter. (Yuck, given how cold and nasty this winter has been.)
To balance out the legend, here are a few groundhog facts, compliments of Cornell University's Web site:
What's the difference between a groundhog and a woodchuck?
None, those are two names for the same animal, which is a relative of the squirrel.
How did Groundhog Day come to be on Feb. 2?
That's about the midway point between start of winter in December and the start of spring in March, so it seems like a good time to judge whether we'll have an early spring. As for groundhogs, they usually end their hibernation around the middle of February anyway. Scientists think that the change in the amount of daylight triggers the groundhog to wake up from hibernation.
What do groundhogs eat?
Nothing in the winter. When they're hibernating, they will lose about half of their body weight (they can weigh up to 14 pounds). In the summer months (especially July and August) they make pigs, so to speak, out of themselves eating green plants, dandelions, clover and wild grasses. They also like vegetable gardens. After pigging out in the summer, they get sleepy and settle down to hibernate in October.
So, how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
The answer is 700 pounds.
How do we know that?
By checking the volume of dirt that fills a typical woodchuck burrow, scientists figured out that if a groundhog had filled it with wood instead of dirt, it would be about 700 pounds.