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Animal Science

The Animal Science Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about scientific and technological topics related to pets, livestock, and other animals. See how cutting-edge advances help - or hinder - species around the world. SavvyExacta is a lifelong animal enthusiast with more than 20 years of experience with horses. Freckles (an English setter) is a frequent topic on the blog. Other CR4 bloggers occasionally add great posts.

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Whistle Pigs

Posted February 02, 2013 12:00 AM by SavvyExacta

Happy Whistle Pig Day! Although they don't look very pig-like, whistle pig is just another name for groundhog. In fact, whistle pigs, groundhogs, woodchucks, and land-beavers are the same animal. They are part of the marmot genus and are rodents in the squirrel family. A post about Groundhog Day has already appeared in the Animal Science blog so I thought I'd write about the animals themselves.

Groundhog Facts

  • Weight ranges from 4-31 pounds and length ranges from 16-30 inches
  • Lifespan is up to six years; Punxsutawney Phil could live as many as 14 years in captivity
  • Predators include wolves, coyotes , foxes, bobcats, bears, hawks, snakes, and dogs
  • Diet includes grass, berries, and crops from your garden (and pancakes)
  • They don't drink water but rather are hydrated by eating leafy plants
  • They do not store food for the winter; instead they hibernate after gorging on food all summer
  • The name whistle pig comes from the high-pitched sound used to alert the community to danger
  • Groundhogs can swim, if necessary, to escape a predator

Destructive Behavior

Groundhogs burrow and herein lies the problem that most humans have with these animals. Burrows usually consist of about 45 feet of tunnels connected by five entrances. These holes and tunnels can cause damage to machinery, other animals, or building foundations. Growing up I feared that they'd dig holes in my horses' pasture.

Digging up History

The digging these rodents do is not all bad; their tunnels helped reveal the Ufferman Site in Ohio, inhabited by Native Americans during the Woodland period. The groundhogs turned up bones, pottery, and stone tools.

With a natural habitat extending from Alaska to Georgia, it's likely that groundhogs live near you. What do you call them? Even if they don't live where you do, you can always ponder the age-old question:

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck

if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could

if a woodchuck could chuck wood!

Resources: National Geographic; NWF; Wikipedia

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#1

Re: Whistle Pigs

02/02/2013 7:17 AM

Dinner!

Woodchuck Pie

1 woodchuck
3 medium carrots
3 potatoes
1/4 cup of butter or margarine
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons of flour and piecrust dough


http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/groundhog-day-groundhog-recipes.aspx?page=2#ixzz2Jk9ascgJ

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#2

Re: Whistle Pigs

02/02/2013 8:00 AM

Happy whistle pig day to you!

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#3

Re: Whistle Pigs

02/02/2013 8:14 AM

Now I've got that Sonny and Cher song running through my head again.

(The wake-up music in the Bill Murray movie.)

Here in Georgia our groundhog prognosticator, Gen. Beauregard Lee, saw his shadow and is predicting 6 more weeks of winter. It was 19 F here this morning. That's really cold for this region; not record-type cold, but still cold. But it's bright and sunny, too.... so that's nice.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Whistle Pigs

02/02/2013 8:22 AM
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#5

Re: Whistle Pigs

02/02/2013 10:28 PM

Ground Hog, Woodchuck,, shot in the head, gutted & Skinned and roasted over an open fire.. Fond memories on life on the farm in the 50's , we made our own fun and picnics.

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#6

Re: Whistle Pigs

02/03/2013 4:21 PM

If the furry little rodent borrows in my lawn, he'll find himself in the crosshairs of my rifle scope! A 30-06 round shreds them pretty well and helps save time for the eventual scavengers.......

On the farm it was necessary to "whack the lawn moles" a few times a week, lest a very valuable dairy cow break a leg or hip stepping into a chuck hole....

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#7

Re: Whistle Pigs

02/05/2013 10:30 AM

In PA they are called grundsow. They have lodges named after them.

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