Groundhogs are a symbolic animal representing the beginning of spring. People all over the United States wait for the famous Punxsutawney Phil’s return for signs of an early or late spring season, but when do groundhogs really come out? Although you can generally expect to see these furry creatures during the spring through fall seasons, when they actually emerge from hibernation changes every year.
When Do Groundhogs Go Into Hibernation?
Like many animals, groundhogs prefer warmer weather and are expected to go into hibernation when the first winter frost begins until the cold winter temperatures end. Groundhogs are very in tune with the changing weather patterns, which is why the tradition of Groundhog Day is the telltale sign of when spring will begin.
When Do Groundhogs Emerge?
Most groundhogs will begin peeping out of their burrows at the beginning of February. This is where the holiday tradition comes into play. If a groundhog looks out of their burrow and sees their own shadow, they will retreat back into their burrow for typically another six weeks. This is the sign of a late spring and an extended winter.
If the groundhog does not see their shadow, this is a sign that the outside temperatures are beginning to rise and it is safe for them to emerge from their winter hibernation. This is how an early spring is traditionally predicted.
How Spring Is Predicted
Whether a groundhog sees their shadow or not is also mainly due to the presence of clouds. Contrary to what you may think, in original folklore if the groundhog peers out of hibernation on a clear day, this is the sign of a long winter. It is a cloudy day when the groundhog will not see their shadow and will fully come out of their winter hibernation.
While groundhogs will begin to emerge at the beginning of February, they may not fully come out of hibernation until March. Ultimately it is the weather that decides whether the groundhogs are ready to go back to their normal daily adventures or not.
Overall, watching groundhogs emerge from their burrows has been a tradition for over 100 years and is cherished by many people all over the country. It has been a great way for people to connect with this animal whereas they might not have if it wasn’t for this holiday tradition.