- Common Name:
- Scientific Name:
- Marmota monax
- Head and body: 17.75 to 24 inches; tail: 7 to 9.75 inches
- 13 pounds
Phil the groundhog is a star! Well, at least on February 2 he is. Phil lives in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where every Groundhog Day people wait for him to come out of his burrow. Legend has it that if Phil sees his shadow, six more weeks of winter will follow.
Phil might be a celebrity once a year, but the rest of the time he probably prefers his me-time. After all, the word monax in the groundhog’s scientific name means “solitary.”
LOOK OUT BELOW!
Groundhogs often burrow under open areas such as meadows and farmlands, which can make the critter a real nuisance to farmers. Groundhogs destroy crops and create holes in the soil, which can damage tractors and injure livestock. (People aren't the only ones who trip—cows can stumble too!)
But burrows are super-important to groundhogs. They're where the rodents sleep, raise their babies, and even poop. (They actually have separate bathrooms!) Burrows also provide protection from predators such as coyotes, hawks, and black bears. And it's not just the groundhog that uses its burrow—animals such as rabbits, chipmunks, and snakes move in once a groundhog has moved out.
Farmers get a break from pesky groundhogs come winter when the rodents enter their burrows to hibernate. In the spring, females give birth in their dens to about three to five pups. But they don't hang out for long. By around two months old, they’re off on their own—whether they see their shadows or not.