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Feb. 02, 2009

It's Marmota Monax Day!

by Guest Blogger

By DNLee

What's Marmota monax Day, you're asking? Well it's Groundhog's Day. Marmota monax is the scientific name for ground hogs, also known as woodchucks. And how much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? None. They spend their time eating plant materials like flowers and roots and the occasional juicy bug.

Though we celebrate groundhogs today, it's actually an inconvenience to them. They are hibernators and don't usually wake up until springtime, in March or April.

Groundhog Day is celebrated in Canada and the United States but seems to have been a tradition brought over by European immigrants. The origins of the day are interesting and coincide with Candlemas Day, also February 2nd, a Catholic Celebration marking the end of Epiphany.
I'm super excited about both celebrations because it is also my birthday! I’ve always thought it was divine declaration that I, an animal-lover since babe-hood, would be born on an animal day and would become a biologist – a small mammal biologist at that.

So if you see me on Facebook, stop by and wish me a Happy Marmota monax Day!

And now to the book review. No, I didn’t forget.

Keeping true to the theme of Groundhogs, I’m recommending the Exploring the World of Mammals, published by Chelsea House Publishers. This is a six volume set that introduces the biodiversity of the Animal Kingdom, Class Mammalia. It is a dynamic series. These are trade books, truly intended for young readers, grades 4-7, but I find them handy and informative. Each book begins with an overview of the group of animals called mammals, defining them as "warm-blooded" animals with hair or fur and special skin glands called mammary glands that produce milk. It really is an encyclopedia. It introduces every type of mammal, including the taxonomy, systematic, and an accurate overview of the animals’ natural history, behavior, distribution, and conservation status. Volume 5 of the series includes a picture of a groundhog. So far, this is the only book I have reviewed for the Animal Behavior Society’s Outstanding Children’s Book Award that has every featured groundhogs or woodchucks. Pick up this set and learn more about ground hogs and their other mammal cousins.

I leave with photos of Wendy the Woodchuck of North Carolina Life and Science Museum.

I took this photo, she was sleeping.

Not her best side. So my great friends from the The North Carolina Life and Science Museum let me share these photos with you:

This is Erin, one the Keepers with the Animal Department of the Museum. They have a blog, too. Check it out. Lots of great stuff about animals.

About Guest Blogger

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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