Would You Recognize This Animal If You Saw It? This Woman Didn’t
Groundhogs and beavers and gophers, oh my! They’re all bucktoothed rodents to me.
Country Woman Magazine
I was due to be born on Groundhog Day, but I must have seen my shadow and reconsidered, because I didn’t emerge on time.
Until I moved to the country, I had never seen a real groundhog. My only reference points were the dancing groundhog in the movie Caddyshack and the one from Groundhog Day, a film about a reporter sent to cover the famous Punxsutawney Phil. Each February in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Phil comes out of his burrow to predict if we’ll have six more weeks of winter.
So it’s not surprising that when an actual groundhog appeared in my yard, I didn’t recognize it.
One sunny afternoon, I saw a critter outside and called my neighbor. “Guess what?” I said. “There’s a beaver on my lawn.”
On the other end—silence.
“Did you hear me? A beaver!”
“There’s something on your lawn, but it’s not a beaver,” my neighbor said. “It’s a groundhog.”
“No, it’s not,” I insisted. “It’s a beaver. I see its big teeth.”
“It might be a groundhog that needs braces, but trust me, it’s a groundhog,” he said.
Considering that my neighbor has lived on farmland his entire life, I did what anyone would do: I ignored him and went inside to Google “beaver + groundhog.”
To the untrained eye, they look a lot alike. No, they really do.
Except that one lives near the water and builds dams, and the other prefers to hang out in my yard causing trouble.
I recently reminded my well-informed neighbor of this story. He pointed out that the critter in Caddyshack was, in fact, a gopher. I can’t stick around to argue the point with him, though. I need to go Google “groundhog + gopher.” I bet they look a lot alike.