The Suitcase Lady

Woodchuck

May 11, 2008, 11:12 pm

Woodchucks, a.k.a. groundhogs, are the largest members of the squirrel family. Their name comes from the Cree Indian word, wuchak, so don’t expect any wood chucking behaviors from your local groundhog.

You may be wondering why I did not address this topic on February 2, America’s official Groundhog’s Day. I am not overly fond of that day, nor, I would suspect, are the groundhogs.

Bear in mind that groundhogs are true hibernators. After a hot shower and a cup of coffee, we non-hibernators wake up fairly easily. For hibernators waking up is a big deal. Seven month slumber sessions involve a vastly slowed down heart rate (100 beats a minute to 4), breathing (one breath every 6 minutes) and temperature (97°F to less than 40°).

It’s positively unkind to bother these guys in the middle of their winter naps especially when we already know that six more weeks of winter is a certainty, shadow or no shadow.

We celebrated Groundhog’s Day two weeks ago. That’s when we spotted our newly awakened groundhog sitting in the middle of the birds’ seed table, stuffing his face with oiled sunflower seeds, the perfect lunch for a herbivore.

A few days later we watched him ambling down the path the animals have made along the edge of our bluff. He would stand up and look around, sentry duty, every foot or two. We’ve noticed that Woody is a cautious guy.

This morning we put out a few stale cookies on the birds’ feeding table. Shortly after, we saw our favorite guy in a state of groundhog bliss shoving cookies into his face… Groundhog’s Day for him. (Click thumbnail for full size Woody!)

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