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Groundhogs vs Prairie Dogs

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow... Okay, so what does that mean? An early spring... hogwash. As Wyomingites we know that no matter what a groundhog says 1788 miles away; we have months of cold weather left. Seriously, what the heck is a groundhog anyway? We set out to understand this odd eastern rodent by comparing it to one a little closer to home. The noble prairie dog. So which is a the better animal, and with whom should we trust or weather forecasting faith? Let us find out in: Groundhog Vs. Prairie Dog. A groundhog's life span is usually six to eight years. Litters are normally born mid-April or May, and by July the young animals are able to go out in the wilderness by themselves. However, while in captivity, groundhogs have been known to live for up to 22 years. They can grow up to 3 feet in length and can weigh as much as 30 pounds. The life span of a prairie dog is generally three to five years in the wild, but they can live up to eight years of age. On average, these stout-bodied rodents will grow to be between 12 and 16 in long, including the short tail, and weigh between 1 and 3 lb. Longer life and larger mass combine to give the groundhog advantage. *Point: Groundhog * *[image: Juvenile_groundhog_siblings_in_early_June_DSC06244....jpg]* Groundhogs are vegetarians. While they do sometimes eat insects, they mostly consume greens, fruits and vegetables. They also drink surprisingly little water. They get most of their liquid from the dewy leaves they eat. Prairie dogs are chiefly herbivorous, though they eat some insects. They feed primarily on grasses and small seeds. In the winter, lactating and pregnant females supplement their diets with snow for extra water. They also will eat roots, seeds, fruit, and buds. Almost identical diets and little need for either to have water. *Point: Tie one to each * Groundhogs are also known as "whistle pigs" because of their ability to sit up on their hind legs and make a loud, high-pitched whistle sound. They use this noise as an alert about oncoming dangers, like coyotes or eagles. They also use this sound during the spring when they begin mating. The prairie dog also vocalizes; they ¨bark¨ to alert other prairie dogs of the danger with a special, high-pitched call. Some scientists say that prairie dogs use a sophisticated system of vocal communication to describe specific predators. According to them, prairie dog calls contain specific information as to what the predator is, how big it is and how fast it is approaching. Both animals vocalize to warn of danger but the prairie may have a form of language. That is a huge advantage especially for a smaller rodent. *Point: Prairie Dog* [image: Prairie_Dog_closeup.jpg] The tradition of Groundhog Day was brought over by German immigrants in the late 1800s. The town of Punxsutawney, Pa., eventually became the center of the tradition. At the time, the "unburrowing" ceremony was planned by members of Groundhog Lodges, meant for socializing with others and enjoying meals. Lander Lil was a prairie dog that the folks over in County 10 used to predict the weather. Lil, was a real-live prairie dog that was kept in town and brought out for the sunrise event. When Lil passed after a long life, a bronze statue was erected at the site of the new Lander Post Office, which formally was a prairie dog town. Lil earned the reputation over the years as the Western counterpart to the Pennsylvania original. The original custom never involved groundhogs anyways! The Europeans originally used badgers or sometimes bears as their weather forecasters, as both animals hibernate and wake up when the days become longer and the sun's angle becomes higher. This is a tough one to break down, but Lander Lil' is much easier to spell than Punxsutawney Phil... and as far as I know he has never gotten a statue. *Point: Prairie Dogs * *Final Score: Prairie Dogs 3, Groundhogs 2* So there you have it, prairie dogs are obviously the superior animal and weather prognosticators. Happy Prairie Dog Wyoming! #reboot #news #shortgo #dally #county17