I have seen subzero temperatures and serious blizzards in the middle of March. So the woodchuck’s less appealing weather forecast still sounds good for folks here in Maine. And if the garden-destroying marmot (the scientific name for a woodchuck is Marmot monax) predicts an even earlier spring, so much the better.
Most everyone views the idea of a woodchuck coming out of its den on February 2 as rank superstition. And of course, it’s true that animals have no way of reckoning any speciﬁc date. However, a woodchuck’s hibernation period usually ends sometime in late February. And if a warm spell hits Maine around Groundhog Day, the animal may well stir, go outside its den and walk around for a bit and then return to its den for some more hibernation. So woodchucks do, in fact, walk around outside in February, snow or no snow. In fact, I have been temporarily puzzled by woodchuck tracks on the snow. The answer came when I tracked the critter to a known woodchuck den. Anyway, as per forecasting the arrival of spring, the woodchuck is indeed a poor prognosticator. So there you have it. Woodchucks may in fact leave their den on or around Groundhog Day. Just don’t believe what they have to say about the weather.
An avid writer and naturalist, Tom writes four regular columns and a multitude of features. He wrote a long running award winning column "Waldo County Outdoors" and a garden column for Courier Publications