Today is Ground hog day! A magical day were we the people of the United States and Canada turn to ground hogs to help us predict the seasons. 🇺🇸🇨🇦It all started with a Pennsylvania Dutch superstition that if a ground hog came out of its burrow, saw its own shadow, and retreated back underground winter would continue on for another six long weeks. If however, there was enough cloud cover so that the emerging ground hog did not flee from his own shadow spring would be arriving early. 🌻🌸🐌
Today the most famous weather predicting ground hog, Punxsutawney Phil has declared an early spring for 2019! Don't put a way your winter coats just yet though. ❄️🌧☃️ According to CCN and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Phil has only been correct in about 40% of his 130 weather predictions. 🔮
Why are we talking about ground hogs on a website about squirrels?
Ground hogs like Phil also called wood chucks and ground pigs are a type of large ground squirrel known as a marmot, in this case specifically Marmota monax! 🐿💕 Thats right! Just like my beloved eastern fox squirrels marmots are in the scientific family known as Sciuridae!
Marmots can be found all over the world just like squirrels! Ground hogs like Phil (Marmota monax) can be found all over North America primarily in woodlands in the North East United States and all throughout Canada. Unlike many tree squirrels 🌲🐿 marmots, similar to a lot of other ground squirrels, hibernate in underground burrows to survive the winter ❄️💤.
Here I submit to you some circumstantial evidence demonstrating the family resemblance between some familiar Squirrel Gazer squirrel species and ground hogs.
The Gummy Bear Pose
If you follow Squirrel Gazer on Instagram you know one of my favorite squirrel postures is what I like to call the gummy bear pose 🐻. It always looks like they need to ask you a really important question when they do that and who doesn't want to answer a question from a squirrel?!
Both eastern fox squirrels and alpine marmots enjoy a unique personal air conditioning system 🌬🐿. These Sciuridae family members often can be seen in the summer months in what I call the pancake pose. By flatting their bodies and spreading out their limbs on a rock or log these guys can cool themselves down after a long morning conducting important of squirrel business.
Familiar mannerisms aside we can use the scientific classification system to understand how ground hogs and squirrels are related.
In a nutshell, all living things are classified in an eight layer system to help scientists identify important information about them. One important layer of this system is called the family. Organisms that share the same family evolved from the same ancestors and because of that tend to share a lot of similar attributes.
Here are the full scientific classifications for fox squirrels and ground hogs. Can you see the similarities?
Here is a video of Phil making his prediction this morning... but really watch this video it may be the strangest and most entertaining thing I have seen.