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All You Ever Wanted To Know About Groundhogs

A sure sign of spring is when Punxsutawney Phil makes his annual appearance (Getty Images)

Groundhog Day is this Sunday.  You already know the Groundhog Day story. It’s been going on every February 2 since 1887 in Punxsutawney, Penn., when Punxsutawney Phil makes his prediction on whether we’re going to get an early spring.

But what do you know about groundhogs?

• The average groundhog is 20 inches long and normally weighs from 12 to 15 pounds. Punxsutawney Phil weighs about 20 pounds and is 22 inches long.

• Groundhogs are covered with thick gray hair with brown, sometimes red, tips. They have short ears, a short tail, short legs but they can run pretty fast. They have very strong jaws.

• A groundhog eats lots of greens, fruits and vegetables and very little water. Most of their liquids come from leaves.

• When a groundhog senses danger — they whistle — almost a shriek. They also whistle in the spring when they’re looking for a mate.

• They’re not bothered by insects, and they’re resistant to the plagues that periodically wipe out large numbers of wild animals. One reason for that is that they’re pretty clean.

• Groundhogs are one of the few animals that really hibernate, going into a deep coma where the body temperature drops to a few degrees above freezing, the heart barely beats, the blood scarcely flows, and breathing nearly stops.

• Baby groundhogs are usually born in April or May, and by July they’re able to go out on their own. A baby groundhog is called a kit or a cub and there’s usually 4-9 in a litter.

• Groundhogs usually live from six to eight years, but Phil gets a drink of a magical punch every summer at the annual Groundhog Picnic, which gives him seven more years of life.

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