by Jeff Goulden
The whole premise of a groundhog being able to predict the weather was intriguing so I decided to drive up Gobblers Knob, look for groundhogs and check things out. Along the way I passed a group of wild turkeys (gobblers) which seemed promising considering I was on Gobbler's Knob. Reaching the top of the knob I drove into a large park that's used for the Groundhog Day celebration. There was nobody around to answer questions and I didn't see any groundhogs either. Information on a sign said that Punxsutawney Phil and his "wife" Phyllis actually lived back in town at the library. So back to town I headed and found the library. Sure enough, I was able to see Phil and Phyllis from the outside of the library through the viewing window. Disappointed that I was unable to see a groundhog in the wild, I left town and continued my travels.
Puzzled by all the sales of marmot pictures, I decided to find out how my pictures were being used. After a few Google searches I found that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had used my picture of an Olympic Marmot to represent a groundhog. That got me thinking. The groundhog must look a lot like a marmot. Obviously, it was time for more research.
Marmots are large furry members of the squirrel family. They are about the size of a small dog. I see them a lot and photograph them when I'm hiking. Marmots typically live in burrows dug from the soil or within rockpiles. They hibernate in their burrows through the winter. Marmots are highly social animals and may be seen in families. To communicate, they whistle loudly, especially when alarmed.
Groundhogs (Marmota Monax), also called woodchucks, land-beaver or whistle-pigs are a very close relative of the marmot and are similar in size and appearance. As I found out, it is very easy to use a picture of a marmot and call it a groundhog.
More pictures of these fascinating animals can be seen in my Marmot Gallery. For special offers and to follow my photographic journey please Join My Email List.