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The problem with groundhogs…

wood chuckThere are lots of problems with groundhogs. But my biggest gripe can be best described with this endearing but frustrating overheard recent conversation.

Two young girls, ages 10 and 8 were standing in the sun on a warm winter’s day. The older girl stepped back into the shade. The younger girl told her, “No, stay in the sun, there are not many sunny days like this in the winter!” The other responded, “But the sun is too hot.” To make her point the younger girl said, “But the hedgehog saw its shadow last week and that means 6 more weeks of winter, so get out in the sun.”

Hedgehog, yes she said hedgehog. We were in Cheshire MA, not England, but Berkshire County USA! She of course was mixing up groundhogs with hedgehogs. But the difference of the two animals is vast*. And the whole idea of the groundhog seeing its shadow, ugh, that drives me nuts. The idea is cute yes,  scientific, NO. Besides groundhogs are the only true hibernators in the Eastern USA so the idea of one dragging itself out of hibernation to see if the sun is shining, isn’t going to happen.

And groundhogs have other things that make them not very likable. They are musk animals so they stink, they live the ground- so they stink, they have little brain cases, so they are not very smart. And they EAT my garden vegetables to the stumps. Oh and they are excellent burrowing animals. There are no less than 7 groundhog holes on my property. They go down one hole and pop up 20 feet away from another hole and whistle to let the others know you are around. And there are always others. They have an elaborate gallery of tunnels under the property.  The joke around here is one day someone is going to stamp their foot at one and the whole yard is going to cave in.

*Differences between Hedgehogs and Groundhogs: There are seventeen species of hedgehogs found through parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa and some are an invasive species in Australia, but they do NOT live in the the USA. They are mammals, but they are in a different order all together from groundhogs. Groundhogs, scientific name, Marmota monax, are in the order “rodents” are also known as woodchucks or whistle pigs, oh, yes they whistle. They live in the North East and Central USA and throughout Canada.

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