Atlantic Canada saw what Environment Canada called a “bomb cyclone” last Thursday. Heavy snow and hurricane-force winds reaching as high as 140 km/h swept through Eastern provinces, causing power outages and widespread damage.
Unfortunately, a furry creature was caught up in the blizzard. During the raging storm, a local resident found a groundhog wandering in circles around their property, looking extremely cold and weak. The frail fella was brought in to the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for some much needed care.
Groundhogs are what you call “true hibernators;” they can reduce their body temperature to as low as 5 degrees Celsius. Like other hibernating mammals, they pack on the pounds leading up to their slumber and live off of the stored energy. Though they do wake up from time to time throughout the winter, an extended jaunt like this is disruptive to the hibernation cycle, causing this groundhog to expend more energy than he can afford. One theory suggests he may have been out wandering due to a flooded den, as groundhogs dig their winter retreats below the frost line.
Luckily, the rehab centre was able to attend to him just in time. After 24 hours of being fed and warmed up, the displaced groundhog was showing signs of progress. He will remain in their care for the remainder of the winter, needing to put on some weight before being released into the wild.
So for now, he will weather this season’s storm in the shelter of the Cobequid Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, enjoying a respite from the cold and snacking on some out-of-season greens.