Outdoor Living

Groundhogs are Really Just Big Squirrels–And Other Fun Facts!

Fun Facts About Groundhogs
  • Punxsutawney Phil is the name of the celebrity groundhog who predicts the seasonal outcome each year
  • A typical weight is 13 pounds
  • Groundhogs are also known as woodchucks and whistle pigs
  • Groundhogs are actually the largest member of the squirrel family
  • Groundhogs are one of the 14 species of marmots
  • Groundhogs dig multiple underground chambers with sharp claws and their iconic incisor teeth to create a complex system of burrows and tunnels
  • Burrows can be up to 6 feet deep and 20 feet wide, including a separate “bathroom” chamber
  • Groundhogs remove dirty bedding material and exchange it for clean, fresh bedding on a regular basis
  • Hibernation begins at the arrival of first frost in late autumn
  • During hibernation, their heart rate  falls from 80 beats per minute to 5, and respiration from 16 breaths per minute to 2
  • To prepare for hibernation, groundhogs spend the summer gorging themselves on plants, fruit, and tree bark to build the fat reserves that will sustain their bodies through the winter
  • Groundhogs can eat up to one pound of food in a single sitting

The History of Groundhog Day

Every year on February 2nd, crowds as large as 35,000 people converge on the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to celebrate Groundhog Day, an annual festival that is said to predict whether or not we can expect an early spring.

  • On an average day, the town of is home to just 5,800 people
  • Crowds gather around Phil’s burrow hole to watch him emerge from hibernation–if he sees his shadow, we’re in for another six weeks of winter. If he doesn’t (we hope so!) we can delight in the coming of an early spring
  • The first Groundhog Day celebration was on February 2, 1887
  • The first prediction was made by a hedgehog. Over time, groundhogs were preferred due to their prevalence in the United States

Now in its 132nd year, the tradition of Groundhog Day remains a fun, midwinter highlight. Since the very first celebration, Punxsutawney Phil has remained a beloved local celebrity—an 1887 newspaper proclaimed about him: “Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Sage of Sages, Prognosticator of Prognosticators and Weather Prophet Extraordinary.


This year at ALEKO, we’re celebrating 132 years of Punxsutawney Phil with our Groundhog Day Sale! Check out our deals before they go back underground!

Click here to check it out! 

Natassja Cassinerio is a writer and editor who lives in the Pacific Northwest. Her work has been featured in Anomalous Press, Crack the Spine, and other online journals. When she isn’t reading or writing, she hikes with her dog, gets avant-garde in the kitchen, practices aerial silks, and studies the birds of Western Washington.

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