Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sunny News

Five days and no Sunny sightings to report. Our resident woodchuck was last spotted entering her home beneath the barn on Wednesday, September 19th.   

Sunny is a constant pal, with me each day while I work outside. Not one to miss a meal of sunflower seeds, her absence is glaring and has me a bit worried as it seems awfully early for groundhogs to go into hibernation.  A look back in this blog told me that Sunny’s brother, Buddy, came out of  his winter sleep on March 15th.  If Sunny followed a similar pattern, mid-September would fit within the realm of normalcy. 

Wondering if the abnormally hot and dry summer could induce an early torpor, I set about doing some internet research. Sure enough, my trusty friend Google introduced me to the concept of “estivation” which is described  as a temporary state of inactivity that mammals will enter if, for example, during summer months it becomes too hot or dry. 

While studying up on woodchucks, I was interested to read they receive most of their hydration from the dew on vegetation they consume.  Well, maybe most do, but my Sunny drinks water from a pan.  Perhaps she modified her behavior in response to the drought?

I also learned that woodchucks usually do not travel more than 50 yards from their dens. This is very good news as I worried that perhaps Sunny had wandered away to another place that doesn’t like woodchucks. 

Tomorrow I will perform a close up inspection of her homes and see if I can observe the traditional “dirt wall” that wintering woodchucks construct to keep out uninvited guests.

Hibernation is an important part of life for woodchucks.  Here at Bon Bon Pond we did our part to fatten her up for the long cold months ahead. 

Sweet dreams, my sweet Sunny.  See you in the spring.

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