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 coarse grayish hairs (fur) tipped with brown or sometimes dull red. They have short ears, a short tail, short legs, and are surprisingly quick. Their jaws are exceptionally strong.
A groundhog's diet consists of lots of greens, fruits, and vegetables and very little water. Most of their liquids come from dewy leaves.
A groundhog can whistle when it is alarmed. Groundhogs also whistle in the spring when they begin courting.
Insects do not bother groundhogs and germs pretty much leave them alone. They are resistant to the plagues that periodically wipe out large numbers of wild animals. One reason for this is their cleanliness.
Groundhogs are one of the few animals that really hibernate. Hibernation is not just a deep sleep. It is actually 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.
Young Groundhogs are usually born in mid-April or May, and by July they are able to go out on their own. The size of the litter is 4 to 9. A baby groundhog is called a kit or a cub.
A groundhog's life span is normally 6 to 8 years. Phil receives a drink of a magical punch every summer during the Annual Groundhog Picnic, which gives him 7 more years of life.
1. Yes, Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just imposters.
2. There has been only one Punxsutawney Phil. Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking "groundhog punch" (a secret recipe). One sip, which is administered every summer at the Groundhog Picnic, gives him seven more years of life.
3. On February 2nd, Phil comes out of his burrow on Gobbler's Knob, in front of thousands of faithful followers from all over the world, to predict the weather for the rest of the winter.
4. According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring.
5. No, Punxsutawney Phil's forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle. After Phil emerges from his burrow on February 2nd, he speaks to the Groundhog Club President in Groundhogese. His proclamation is then translated for the world.
6. The celebration of Groundhog Day began with the Germans, Pennsylvania's earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states "For as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May...". The settlers found that groundhogs were plentiful and were the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day.
7. Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800's. The first official trek to Gobbler's Knob made on February 2nd, 1887.
8. So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br'er Groundhog.