Ground Hog

February 2, 2011 by staff 

Ground Hog, Groundhog (Marmota monax), also known as a woodchuck, or, in some areas as a land of beaver is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Other marmots, such as yellow-bellied marmots and hoary live in rocky areas and mountainous, but the woodchuck is a lowland creature. It is widely distributed in North America and common in the northern United States and the center. Groundhogs are found as far north as Alaska, with their habitat extending south of Alabama. [2
The groundhog is the largest squirrels in his geographical area, typically measuring 40 to 65 cm (16 to 26) (including the tail 15 cm (6 in.)) long and weighing 2-4 kg (4-9 lb). In areas with fewer natural predators and large quantities of alfalfa, groundhogs can grow to 80 cm (30 inches) and 14 kg (31 lb). Groundhogs are well adapted for digging, short but powerful members and curves, thick claws. Unlike other squirrels, the spine is curved Groundhog closer to that of a mole, and the tail is shorter compared well - only about one quarter of body length. Adapted to temperate habitat, groundhogs are covered with two layers of fur: a dense gray undercoat and a layer of guard hairs over bands that gives the groundhog its distinctive "frosted".

Groundhogs usually live from two to three years but can live up to six years in the wild. In captivity, groundhogs can exceed this limit; for example, 22 years old Wiarton Willie may indicate the maximum life span. Common predators for groundhogs are wolves, coyotes, foxes, lynx, bears, large hawks, owls, and dogs. Young groundhogs are often at risk of predation by snakes, which easily enter the burrow.
Mostly herbivorous, groundhogs primarily eat wild grasses and other plants, and berries and agricultural crops when available. Groundhogs also eat grubs, grasshoppers, insects, snails and other small animals, but are not as omnivorous as many other Sciuridae. Like squirrels, they have also been observed in a sitting position to eat as shagbark hickory nuts, but unlike squirrels do not bury them for future use.
Groundhogs are one of the few species that come true hibernation, and often build a "winter burrow" for this distinct purpose. This burrow is usually in wooded or brushy area and is dug below the frost line and remains a stable temperature and above freezing during the winter months. In most areas, groundhogs hibernate from October to March or April, but in more temperate regions, they may hibernate as little as three months. To survive in winter they are at their maximum weight shortly before hibernation. They emerge from hibernation with a body fat of life remaining until the weather warms in spring produces plant material for supply plentiful.

Groundhogs raised in captivity can be socialized quite easily, but their aggressive nature can pose problems. Doug Schwartz, a zookeeper and groundhog trainer at the zoo on Staten Island, was quoted as saying: "They are known for their aggressiveness, so that you are using a hard place. [Their] natural impulse is to Kill ‘Em All and let God sort of em out. We must work to produce the soft and cuddly. ”

United States and Canada, the Groundhog Day celebration each year gave recognition Groundhog and popularity, just like the movie of the same name. The most popularly known of these marmots Wiarton Willie and Punxsutawney Phil, well maintained as part of the festivities of Groundhog Day in Wiarton, Ontario and Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, respectively. A famous groundhog south, Gen. Beauregard Lee, is based at Yellow River Game Ranch outside Atlanta, Georgia. Its forecasts are also very popular in the Southeast.

Beavers are used in medical research on hepatitis B-induced liver cancer. When infected with hepatitis B virus Woodchuck, they are 100% risk of developing cancer of the liver, making them a good model to test for hepatitis B and liver cancer therapies.

Groundhog burrows have been known to be at least one archaeological site, the site Ufferman in the U.S. state of Ohio. Although archaeologists have not excavated the site Ufferman, many objects have been found because of the activities of local marmots. They promote the soft ground of the esker on which the site is located, and many of their excavations have brought to their burrows numbers large area of human and animal bones, pottery, and pieces of stone.

Groundhog Day veteran Mike Sigmon Stone Mountain granddaughters Payton, 8, and Reagan, 5, Nice to see for the first time. Sigmon, who lives a few miles away, was at the event in eight of the last nine years. “Children love coming to the ranch game, so I thought it would be fun, too,” he said.
“I liked it, but I had to wake up at 6 am,” said Payton.

Wendy Seigler of Dacula and her 8-year-old son, Matthew got up at 5 am at the head of the Yellow River Ranch game to see if an early spring was on its way. They are all on the marmot, they said – they were stuffed groundhog toy and both wore “Happy Groundhog Day T-shirts.
“Dad thinks we’re crazy,” Matthew, Puckett’s Mill Elementary second grader, said.
“It’s just a fun thing to do,” said Wendy Seigler. “It’s a totally fun party … and there are no gifts involved.”
It was General Beau Lee, groundhog who resides in the Yellow River Ranch game, did not see his shadow drew applause from about 200 people who came to see “Georgia Official Weather forecaster” make his prediction on how long it will be until spring.  [via wikipedia and various online sources]

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