Groundhogs

941AC60A-9BF0-4625-B80A-77AFC2916DD2Groundhogs

The groundhog is an amazing animal—the only one with its own holiday! I grew up on a farm where my father planted acres of vegetable gardens, so we had groundhogs galore! They were mainly our pests, and we often killed them and gave them to a neighbor who loved to eat them. It was later in life that we started eating them ourselves—they are absolutely delicious and one of my favorite meats. The groundhog (Marmota monax), also known as a woodchuck, chuck, woodshock, groundpig, whistlepig, whistler, thickwood badger, Canada marmot, monax, moonack, weenusk, red monk and siffleux is a rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots. Groundhogs in the wild rarely live past 6 years with an average lifespan of 2-3 years. They are primarily vegetarians and are one of only a few species that enter true hibernation, when they lose up to half their body weight. Groundhogs are used in the research of hepatitis B associated liver cancer because many have a similar viral infection. They are also used to study other metabolic conditions. As great burrowers, they have even uncovered valuable artifacts. They are limited to North America, but have inspired one of my favorite movies, Groundhog Day.

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