Plenty of wild animals are no longer so “wild.” We’ve domesticated many species, and many others have learned to live alongside us.
For the most part, people seem to find the small, furry critters either cute or annoying. If you’ve never had a garden or dealt with creatures ransacking your attic, you probably find bunnies, squirrels and the like charming.
Some of them are pretty sassy, too. Groundhogs are definitely on the larger end of the “small, furry critter” scale, but they’re well-known thanks to a tradition that dates back to the 1800s.
According to History.com, the tradition of Groundhog Day in America started when German settlers moved to Pennsylvania. Back in the homeland, it was a hedgehog they’d use to determine how distant spring was, but they decided the American equivalent was the groundhog (it helped that there were so many in the area).
Since Feb. 2, 1887, Groundhog Day has been celebrated, and there has been a long line of “Puxsutawney Phil”s saddled with the responsibility of determining the weather ever since.
“Phil is 12 pounds and 20 inches long,” the Puxsutawney Phil “About” page on Facebook reads. “He has brown fur and brown eyes.”
“Posts made on this page are from the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle. Punxsutawney Phil does not speak.”
Groundhogs, also known as “whistle pigs” and “woodchucks” are permanent features in nursery rhymes and film. They’re depicted as cheeky and voracious, and this newest example fits the stereotype quite well.
One especially bold specimen in Philadelphia approached a home and dragged along a slice of pizza, chowing down for over an hour and staring in through a sliding glass door as if it were watching television.
The video, captured by Kristin Chalela Bagnell, showed the audacious critter sitting outside the glass, paws wrapped around a slice while her dogs watched it with rapt attention.
“Before I recorded, we noticed that pizza was out in our backyard and we didn’t know where it came from,” she said. “Then both of the dogs were very intently looking out the glass.”
The large rodent — now referred to as “pizza groundhog” — seemed thoroughly unconcerned and perfectly content to keep on with his meal just out of reach of the canines, and he’s gained quite a fan base online.
“He’s just enjoying his day at the zoo,” one viewer commented on the ABC7 News video. “Looking at all the animals in their cages.”
“I love this he is chomping on this pizza I couldn’t stop laughing he is adorable,” wrote another.
A few shared stories about their own interactions with groundhogs, attesting to how social they can be. Have you ever experienced a run-in with a groundhog?
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