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Groundhogs: incidental archaeologists, mystical meteorologists

Despite being the only rodent with a holiday to its name, groundhogs are often considered pests.

However, these natural-born diggers have unearthed rare artifacts, play a pivotal role in shaping ecosystems, and are tied to important breakthroughs in hepatitis B treatments. Plus they’re pretty cute.

So in this episode, a special Groundhog Day edition of our Holy Scat series, we’re digging up as many amazing factoids about these creatures as we possibly can.

Featuring: David Scofield, Amanda Gillen, Eric D’Aleo, Joe Bruchac, and Sandra Sexton

Rocky On-site Archaeologist.jpg
David Scofield
A taxidermized woodchuck at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter visitor center honors the original woodchuck that dug up artifacts here in 1955 and led to the discovery of the oldest known site of human habitation in North America.


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Youtube video of a whistling groundhog

NBC News video of Groundhog Day 2022

Read more about the Meadowcroft Rockshelter – the oldest known site of human habitation in North America, discovered by a groundhog.

Read this 1996 article about hepatitis B research using the woodchuck animal model at Cornell University.


Host: Nate Hegyi

Reported and produced by Felix Poon

Edited by Taylor Quimby

Rebecca Lavoie is our Executive Producer

Music for this episode by Blue Dot Sessions.

Our theme music is by Breakmaster Cylinder.

Felix Poon first came to NHPR in 2020 as an intern, producing episodes for Outside/In, Civics 101, and The Second Greatest Show on Earth. He went to work for Gimlet Media’s How to Save a Planet before returning in 2021 as a producer for Outside/In. Felix’s Outside/In episode Ginkgo Love was featured on Spotify's Best Podcasts of 2020.
Outside/In is NHPR's podcast about the natural world and how we use it. Click here for podcast episodes and more.

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