It's that time of year again! The doldrums of winter are upon us, and we are all hungry for a sign of spring. This Sunday, February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from hibernation to determine if we will have six more weeks of winter. So, in honor of this strange tradition, we wanted to take this opportunity to share a few fun facts about this lovable beast. Maybe you can use a few of them to encourage your scholars to eat like groundhogs!
Is he really looking for his shadow?
Groundhogs, which are actually large squirrels, and can weigh up to 15 pounds (!), are hibernators and herbivores. They spend the fall consuming up to 1/3 of their weight in vegetation each day! Then they tuck in for a long winter's nap. While they are hibernating, their heart rate goes from 80 beats per minute to 5. When they emerge in February, it's because they're quite hungry - not to see their shadow!
So, What's for Breakfast?
These hungry little guys love their crunchy veggies. Among their favorite eats are broccoli, peas, soybeans, carrots, lettuce, green beans and apples - all featured on the Red Rabbit menu! Because they've spent the whole winter sleeping, they awake in the early spring with a one-track mind: binge eating alllll the veggies they can get their paws on!
And They're Good Neighbors Too?
When they aren't gobbling up all the apples they can find, groundhogs (also known as "whistle-pigs" for the shrill sounds they make to signal danger) are fantastic diggers. They create elaborate burrow systems used by other animals, such as foxes, possums and skunks. These underground passageways are also important for soil aeration and recycling!
Don't let winter get you down!
We hope that these fun facts have inspired you to eat like a groundhog, instead of feeling like Bill Murray in the Movie Groundhog Day! If you're feeling like winter will never end, and you just want to go to the diner and eat all the worst food, take a page out of the whistle-pig's book, and bulk up on broccoli instead! It will give you the sustained energy to make it through to spring!