02 February, 2006

Groundhog Day

...Don't nobody worry 'bout me /You got to gimme a fight /Why don't you just let me be ....

Okay, yes, the theme from Caddyshack was sung by a gopher, not a groundhog. And the difference between the two? Glad you asked.

The groundhog (also known as a "woodchuck" and "whistle pig") is a marmot — essentially, a giant North American ground squirrel. The gopher is, like the groundhog, a burrowing member of the rodent order but its closest living relatives are kangaroo rats and pocket mice.

The groundhog hibernates and the gopher does not. By the end of October, the groundhog descends into her hidden burrow beneath a stump or a rock, curls into a relaxed ball, slows her heart from 75 to 4 beats a minute, and drops her body temperature to that of her home. She is so far "asleep" that, even if we warm her, she needs several hours to waken.

Source: WonderQuest.

You may already know the dirtpig, er, groundhog's, official prognostication, but did you know you can watch Punxutawney Phil in action? Or inaction, as the case may be.

I figure he can't be the only weather-critter, but when I search 'animal prognosticators', this is what I get. Goodie. A social studies lesson, and all I really wanted was to know when I can stow away my sweaters in favor of clothes that fit into the palm of my hand.

Still, it's only another fourty-five days or so to Annual Buzzard Sunday, which I anticipate in a way that baffles all but the very closest of my friends.

(I'm Alright; Kenny Loggins)


Stephanie said...

Ah yes the critters are different but Bill Murray is the same - he showed up in both.

As always thank you for sending me a song that won't leave my head and a visual that leaves me laughing so hard my office mates complain. Again well done !

Paul said...

Pfffffft. We haven't even had the start of winter yet around here- a handful of cold days, and one brief bit of snow in the beginning of December.

Inanna said...

I think we should go to Hinkley to watch the buzzards fly in!!!

In Europe they used a hedgehog instead of a groundhog. I saw one late at night puttering around our courtyard. Interesting little creatures.

Cybele said...

I'm delighted to know that I inject your day with humour and annoyance simultaneously.

I'm waiting for the deep snows Farmer's Almanac predicts.

I'm up for planning a road trip if you are! There's a buzzard pancake breakfast and everything!