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Groundhog prediction: Six more weeks of winter

February 4, 2012
By GARRY BRANDENBURG , Times-Republican

WOODCHUCKS hibernate throughout the winter in a burrow deep enough to be below frost line. There the soil temperature is cold, not freezing, and constant. For this member of the rodent family, constant soil temps allow this mammal's body temperature to fall to 39 to 40 degrees. Respirations slow considerably, so does heart rate. Some very interesting biochemical adaptions are taking place that allows this animal's blood to flow, minimum but adequate oxygen to be retained, and no need for the intake of food. The sleep related hormone melatonin is believed to be involved in the wake-up call for this 14 pound rodent.



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