Groundhogs are the only animal with a holiday dedicated to them. Chattanooga Chuck is the groundhog that lives at the Tennessee Aquarium and lets the NewsChannel 9 viewing area know if we will have six more weeks of Winter or if Spring is just around the corner.
Susie Grant is an animal trainer and educator at the Tennessee Aquarium and explained that groundhogs are actually the largest of the squirrel family.
"Most people think of squirrels being up in trees, but with a name like groundhog, they are going to spend most of their time under the ground," said Grant.
Groundhogs spend most of their time digging and they are very good at it.
"They will dig a burrow that can be anywhere from two feet to almost as tall as I am," said Grant. Thanks to huge front claws and broad shoulders, Grant said they can dig a tunnel that could be the length of a school bus. Groundhogs can move hundreds of pounds of soil. While they do live in the southeast Tennessee area, people will not see them very often because they are true hibernators. Grant explained that they are more likely to be spotted in the late Summer and early Fall. This time period is also when their diet almost triples, to pack on the pounds for hibernation.
"Most of the time groundhogs will stand on their hind feet to eat and you can see it puts their eye sight at a different level," said Grant. This allows them to see over grasses in order to spot predators. Groundhogs have a great sense of balance which allows them to walk on their hind legs.
Chattanooga Chuck made Parade Magazine's "5 Groundhogs to Watch (Besides Punxsatawney Phil)"