February 2, 2017
The Rhode Island DEM has a number of info packs on various local wildlife including…. the Groundhog! That’s right, today is Groundhog Day, and many of you local gardeners and farmers know this critter well. Agricultural destruction aside, we might be feeling some animosity towards this rodent for predicting six more weeks of winter. But it’s hard to stay mad in the face of these quirky, endearing facts.
A groundhog by any other name…
Although we might call them a groundhog, they’ve got a bunch of other names, including marmot, woodchuck or, my favorite, whistlepig.
They hate flowers
Okay, maybe not all flowers, but apparently groundhogs hate marigolds. If you’re trying to discourage them from rummaging through your garden, a few flowerbeds might do the trick.
They don’t stay in the ground
Apparently groundhogs don’t entirely live up to their names. They are great diggers, but they’re also good at swimming and climbing. As of yet, there’s no evidence that they can operate bicycles, so they still won’t beat you in your next triathlon.
Groundhogs have roommates
Although usually solitary creatures, groundhogs have been known to share burrows with other animals, such as raccoons. Even the sloppiest human roommate would probably be preferable to one of the groundhog’s confirmed cohabitants–the skunk.
They are only distantly related to pigs
Unsurprising to most of you (hopefully), groundhogs are not really a subspecies of pigs. They are actually the largest creature in the squirrel family despite lacking the bushy tail. We’ll continue to scratch our heads over why people name rodents after porkers (I’m looking at you Guinea pig and hamster).