30 Jan Everything You Need to Know About Groundhogs & Punxsutawney Phil
Happy Groundhog Day! Here at Mountain Creek Riding Stable, we’re patiently waiting to find out if our
furry neighbor in Punxsutawney has seen his shadow or not. In the meantime, we’ve got all the Groundhog
Day facts, including details on Punxsutawney Phil and his cousin, Gus, the Groundhog.
Groundhog vs. Woodchuck vs. Gopher: What’s the difference?
Groundhogs and woodchucks are actually synonyms! There’s no difference between groundhogs and woodchucks. These critters are referred to as woodchucks in Massachusetts, where they’re most common. Groundhogs and gophers are both brown, fuzzy rodents so it’s easy to confuse them. However, they actually have many physical differences! Gophers’ teeth protrude from their mouths, even when closed, while groundhogs’ teeth do not. Gophers’ teeth are yellow, while groundhogs’ teeth are white. Groundhogs’ tails are
covered in thick fur, while gophers’ tails are hairless.
Groundhogs are also part of the animal class that includes squirrels and chipmunks, while gophers are part of the animal class that includes kangaroo rats and pocket mice. Groundhogs sleep in dens, while gophers have complex burrow systems. Groundhogs gorge themselves in the summer to bulk up for the winter, while gophers fill their cheeks with food so they can transport it to their burrow and stock up for the winter.
What do groundhogs eat?
Groundhogs are herbivores, which means they do not eat meat. Groundhogs primarily eat wild grasses, berries and agricultural crops.
What’s the history behind Groundhog day?
Groundhog Day began in 1887 and originated from ancient European lore and Candlemas day where a hibernating animal, often a hedgehog, would cast a shadow and predict six more weeks of winter, which they called the “Second Winter”. Germans were Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers and due to the similarity of European hedgehogs and groundhogs, they determined that the groundhog was the most sensible animal for predicting the weather. According to tradition, if the groundhog sees his shadow, we’ll have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, we’ll get an early spring!
Who is Punxsutawney Phil?
Phil is a groundhog who lives in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, right across the state from the Poconos! Most of Punxsutawney Phil’s time is spent in his home at the Punxsutawney Library with his wife, Phyllis. Punxsutawney Phil is the only groundhog who can predict the weather and he’s been doing so for 120 years!
Who is Gus, the groundhog?
Gus is the second most famous groundhog in Pennsylvania, next to Punxsutawney Phil! He is the “spokesgroundhog” in more than 50 commercials for the state lottery system. His tag line is “keep on scratchin’!” and he and his girlfriend, Gabby, visit the Pocono Mountains every Valentine’s Day. This means he’ll be in our area in just a couple weeks!
How do people celebrate Groundhog day?
Most people celebrate by acknowledging the day, reading about its history, and watching Punxsutawney Phil emerge from his burrow on television.
Here in Pennsylvania though, there are many local celebrations. The biggest one is in Gobbler’s Knob in the Pennsylvania Wilds where people can watch live as Punxsutawney Phil gives his prediction. Over 20,000 people attend the celebration and millions watch on television.
Although the winter has its advantages, we can’t lie – we’re hoping Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t see his shadow so we can enjoy an early spring! Mountain Creek Riding Stable is located in the Poconos, about 3.5 hours from Punxsutawney. If you’re celebrating Groundhog Day in or around Pennsylvania, stop by for a trail ride with the family! Book your tour today!