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Groundhogs and woodchucks – Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks of winter

By Staff | Feb 5, 2008

ARMSTRONG — If you haven’t heard yet, Punxsutawney Phil is telling us it’s six more weeks until winter.

At least that’s what the groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pa., said Saturday.

Locally, Emmet County Conservation Board Naturalist Anita Fisher told kids at the Armstrong Public Library Saturday all about groundhogs, their habits, and even a little bit about their personalities.

The tradition of shadows appearing for groundhogs, woodchucks, whistle pigs, or whatever you want to call them, actually began not in America but in England, with the hedge hog. And, while his shadow might seem a little scary, depending on the angle of the sun, the groundhog leans toward plants, bark, and insects for the majority of his diet.

Groundhog Day shares the same day as Candlemas, also on Feb. 2, which began when people would light candles in their windows to chase away the dark of winter. Feb. 2, incidentally, is exactly between the winter solstice and spring equinox.

Fisher showed the kids a groundhog hide and skull to illustrate that these shy, furry, little creatures aren’t that terribly large.

They can still make a pretty big shadow, though.

Contact Michael Tidemann at (712) 362-2622 or mtidemann@esthervilledailynews.com and visit our photo sharing Web site at cu.esthervilledailynews.com