Are there groundhogs in East Texas?

Published: Feb. 2, 2016 at 11:38 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2016 at 1:14 AM CST
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LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Today is the one day a year meteorologists are trumped by a rodent. Yes, it's Groundhog Day! And this year Punxutawney Phil was pulled out of his tree trunk cage to cloudy skies, so he had no shadow. The Groundhog Club promptly proclaimed an early spring.

But is there an East Texas groundhog around to confirm that? We went to Longview's Animal Control for some kind of answer.

Longview Senior Animal Control Officer Chris Kemper has seen and captured a lot of critters, but:

"I have never had a run in with a groundhog here in East Texas," Kemper said.

It sounds like there aren't really any groundhogs in East Texas, according to a range map on Wikipedia.

"Have you ever had to take in anything that was similar to a groundhog?" I asked Kemper.

"I did pick up a pet prairie dog once," Kemper explained.

He said it was very docile and not a problem, but didn't say if it cast a shadow.

"[Groundhogs] seem to stop just north and just east of Texas. They are marmots so they are in the squirrel family. They are, in North America, one of the largest animals in the squirrel family. They are one of the few animals that hibernates," Kemper stated.

And, Kemper ads, they pop out before spring to see if it's time to get up, or go back to bed. They can cause trouble.

"Problems underneath foundations, they can cause problems where people are planting crops. They can be an animal that can be quite a nuisance," Kemper said.

They're also called woodchucks, although they don't that.

"Comes from a Native American name for the groundhog, and it had the "woodchuck" sound to it," Kemper stated.

We checked out an open field of sorts nearby, just to be sure. We did find a big hole.

"That looks like a luxury home for a groundhog," I commented.

"That would be a luxury home for a groundhog," Kemper agreed.

Animal control must be doing a great job because there wasn't a 'whistle pig' to be found.

Maybe East Texas weather wouldn't be so crazy if we had groundhogs.

There may not be any groundhogs in East Texas, but there are three more groundhogs that cast a shadow, or not, on winter's length: One in Canada, one in New York, and another in Georgia.

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