Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Big Sleep's a comin'

Groundhog picture taken by B. Fontana and used with thanks! Click on image to enlarge it.

Groundhogs make me laugh. Out loud. Seriously. They just tickle me. I laugh like a kid every single time I see one of them snuffling about, looking to destroy someone's flower or vegetable garden! When I came back to NJ several years ago and saw one, my first reaction was that a cocofiber doormat had grown legs and was running across a patch of grass. Outside of that poor Phil who gets yanked out of his den every Imbolc or Groundhog Day, I had never seen a wild one.

Marmota monax - from the marmot family. Fat, funny and apparently, quite fierce when provoked.

Things I did not know about groundhogs:

Despite their heavy-bodied appearance, groundhogs are accomplished swimmers and climbers, and climb trees to escape predators or survey their surroundings. They prefer to retreat to their burrows when threatened; if the burrow is invaded, the groundhog tenaciously defends itself with its two large incisors and front claws.

Groundhogs are generally agonistic and territorial among their own species, and may skirmish to establish dominance. Outside their burrow, individuals are alert when not actively feeding. It is common to see one or more nearly-motionless individuals standing erect on their hind feet watching for danger. When alarmed, they use a high-pitched whistle to warn the rest of the colony, hence the name "whistle-pig." Groundhogs may squeal when fighting, seriously injured, or caught by an enemy. Other sounds groundhogs may make are low barks and a sound produced by grinding their teeth.

Me? I just squeal with delight when I see them. They'll be hibernating soon, so seeing them now will be a rare sight.

Update: OK - I admit it. I just had to see if there was a You Tube of these little critters and to my amazement, there was - of baby groundhogs!!


Jasmine said...

How cute :)

We don't have groundhogs here. Thats something I am beginning to like about blogging, I keep finding out things other places have that we don't and also being astonished by the thing we do have and take for granted that others don't.

They don't have nettles or blackberries in Australia. And I get jealous of their wonderful eucalyptus dye pot productions, but I wouldn't give up the nettle or the blackberry :)

Delphyne said...

Don't you have the hedgehogs where you are? They are the CUTEST little things! I definitely want to snuggle with them - I think my voice would go up around 18 octaves just being in their company....then again, almost any little animal does that to me!

We had eucalyptus in California and they are gorgeous trees - their fragrance is heavenly and I love the way they shed in very windy weather. You can string their berries and make a natural flea collar for dogs!

No blackberries in Australia? I thought they grew just about everywhere! I like nettles - they're very helpful when allergies come calling.

Blogging and internet surfing does open the world up, doesn't it? I like traveling like that - no passport needed!

Jasmine said...

We do have hedgehogs. I love them. I used to bring them home to look after at weekends when I was a vet nurse. (only the poorly ones).

Jasmine said...

Saw this -

Delphyne said...

Thanks, Jasmine! That is a great looking hat...

Nancy B. Hartley said...

Kathy, these little guys are adorable! Thanks so much for the video. I always see something new on your blog! It's terrific! My only experience with groundhogs has been the movie, "Groundhog Day", which would be great to rent , if you haven't seen it. It's very cute, Andie McDowell, and I think, Steve Martin.

Delphyne said...

Thanks, Nancy! I have seen the Groundhog Day movie - several times!