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  • Challenge Question # 1

    Lois Spangler (
    Sat, 08 Feb 1997 10:24:11 -0800

    Greetings from Central School, Great Meadows, N. J.:
    This is what we found out about groundhog hibernation in our area.
    You may write back to us.

    The following information was gathered and written by Andy S. :
    Woodchucks are the best-known hibernators among mammals. They are
    the "groundhogs" which are said to come out of their hibernation on Feb.
    2, but go back for six or more weeks of winter if they see their shadows.
    Actually woodchucks go into burrows four or five feet (1.2 - 1.5 meters )
    underground in Sept. or October. There they stay without moving until
    about March in our region. The males emerge for mating purposes earlier
    than the females and younger groundhogs, usually at 25 to 35 degrees. The
    females and younger groundhogs emerge at 40 degrees. Photoperiod is the
    length of daylight on biological processes. Males emerge with approx. 10
    - 11 hours between sunrise and sunset. Females and younger woodchucks
    emerge with 12 hours between sunrise and sunset.
    When hibernating woodchucks become cooler and cooler, till their bodies
    are only a little warmer than the air in their burrows. The animals also
    breathe very slowly, while the beating of their hearts both slows down
    and becomes irregular.If the weather becomes dangerously cold they
    "awaken" move about and raise the temperature of their bodies. Any that
    fail to do this freeze to death. Therefore, the greatest danger for such
    small creatures is too big a drop in temperature of their surroundings.
    Then there is a possibility that they may freeze, with ice forming inside
    the body. hey must survive the winter conditions right where they are so
    the temperature and the photoperiod are important for survival. The
    groundhog of North America may remain active for most of the year in the
    soutghern regions, but individuals in the north may hibernate for several
    months at a time. I think cold is the most important factor encouraging
    My sources for this report were: Mrs. Pat McConnell of the Division of
    Fish and Game, and the Comptons Interactive Encyclopedia Edition 1996.

    This information was found by Stephanie W,:
    Groundhogs come out of hibernation in the middle of March in our area.
    The photoperiod is about 12 hours because it is close to the Spring
    Equinox.I think the temperature and photoperiod are important because the
    groundhog eats only plants in the daylight and sleeps at night.
    I found my information in Merit Students Encyclopedia and from talking to
    my parents.

    This information was found by James P.:
    Groundhogs go into hibernation in our area in October and they come out
    about four or five months later depending upon the temperature. The
    groundhog gets up when there are plants and leaves to eat.
    I found my information in Wonders Of Woodchucks by Sigmund Lavine.I also
    talked to adults.