By now you've heard that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning so we are to expect six more weeks of Winter. How can a groundhog in Gobbler's Knob, PA predict what our weather will be in Texarkana? Do we have our own groundhog in Texarkana to put to the test?

The quick answer to whether we have any groundhogs in Texarkana is no. I asked our resident expert in all that is wildlife, Lori Anderson. She is the only state and federally licensed wildlife rescue expert in Texarkana. She is also the owner and operator of Toby’s Tales Wildlife Rescue and she is my go to person anytime I have questions about wildlife animals.

Mimi: "Are there any groundhogs in Texarkana?"

Lori: "No, the majority are in Central and Eastern United States. They like colder weather. They wouldn’t have to hibernate here because it doesn't get cold enough or stay cold for very long."

Mimi: "Have you ever rescued a groundhog?"

Lori: "No."

Mimi: "What is a groundhog?"

Lori: "A groundhog is a ground squirrel, a rodent. Basically a groundhog is a big ole squirrel. They are vegetarians."

Mimi: "Why are they called woodchucks if they don't eat wood?"

Lori: "I guess they’ll eat bark if they are starving but it may be due to the amount of dirt and wood they dig up when building their big burrows. They are very complex with chambers specifically to store food, for a bathroom, one to sleep, and if a female nesting/nursery."

Mimi: "Where do they build their burrows?"

Lori: "Groundhogs are an edge species, they like to live on the edge of mountains near a field. Where the woodland meets the field, so they can hunt and hide. They are also called Whistle Pigs because they whistle when alerting of danger to the rest of their community. Even though they are solitary animals, they will live close to each other but they don’t share their burrows. They eat a third of their weight in vegetation every day. In the Fall they eat more to get ready to hibernate. They go to sleep in the late Fall early/Winter and sleep until early Spring."

Mimi: "Would a groundhog make a good pet?"

Lori: "Probably not. They are actually considered pests to residential areas and agriculture because they dig big tunnels. In the wild they only live 3 to 6 years and their average size is 12 pounds. Phil is obviously much bigger than that."

I did a little more research on the woodchuck thing because it puzzled me why we would ask ourselves how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood. According to Health News Digest, “The name woodchuck comes from a Cree Indian word, wuchak, which was used for several different animals of similar size and color."

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