OK, now that we've beaten Groundhog Day into the ground, what about the furry animal that gives the holiday its name?
First of all, groundhogs go by many names. They are also known as ground squirrels, woodchucks, whistle hogs, squeavers and marmots. Their scientific name is Marmot monax.
They are members of the squirrel family that dig holes underground (hence the name "ground squirrel"). In the spring they build dens about 2 to 4 feet deep in grassy areas, often under buildings for protection. The dens may have several chambers. In the fall, they move to dry, wooded areas and dig another den to hibernate in.
Groundhogs generally hibernate from late September or October until March, sometimes April. It would be very unusual for a groundhog to be up and about in early February!
Groundhogs eat wild plants like grass, clover and leaves. They also munch on fruits, vegetables and berries, if they are available. Bears, wolves, foxes, bobcats and other hunters will catch and eat groundhogs.
An adult groundhog can grow up to one-and-a-half to two-feet long, and weigh around 10 pounds. They live to be 8 to 10 years old.
Though cute, groundhogs do not make very good pets. They sleep half the year, and the other half they want to dig. It's best to leave them in the wild.
For more information on groundhogs, you can check out this Wikipedia entry, this page from the Missouri Department of Conservation, or this fun site dedicated to groundhogs. (Check out Groundhog 101 for the basic facts.)