Groundhogs and Other Weather Folklore

Reporting:  Rabbit Zielke


Groundhog day comes only once a year but all kinds of animals provide signs that the weather is about to change.  In this interview experts from the Tennessee Aquarium share weather folklore and fact in celebration of Groundhog Day.   Many of the proverbs we looked into were documented in a Journal by General William Babcock Hazen, a civil war general who went on to become head of the fledgling United States Weather Service in 1880.

Communications Manager Thom Benson provided this report direct from the Tennessee Aquarium.

Chattanooga Chuck’s 2011 Groundhog Day Forecast

Predicting the weather is said to be a groundhog’s calling,
but other animals may know when the barometer’s falling.
Before causing spring fever or winter delirium,
I checked with my pals at the Tennessee Aquarium.
The catfish had unusually thick belly skin,
a sign of cold winter to a woodchuck’s chagrin.
The sharks were all smiles and seemed to behave,
It’s said they go to sea before a cold wave.
Hundreds of butterflies thought my plight was quite funny.
“Silly groundhog,” they said. “Who avoids weather that’s sunny?”
“Today I do,” I began to exclaim.
“If I see my shadow – I’ll get the blame.”
No one wants six more weeks of what we’ve just had.
Except for the penguins who would be perfectly glad.
Just then my heart got a gigantic boost,
my amphibian friends were awake on their roost.
The Aquarium’s tree frogs were loudly calling galore,
old proverbs say that means weather changes in store.
Croak three times and I’ll know winter has broken.
Once, twice and that’s all that was spoken.
Macaws like to talk, but they couldn’t say,
If spring would arrive or winter would stay.
So I climbed on my perch of old hickory log,
and chuckled at the sight of a large prairie dog.
He looked mighty big staring at me from below,
No pup looking up – it must be my shadow!
I’ll stay warm if Old Man Winter won’t give in to defeat,
enjoying six more weeks of shut-eye in my underground retreat.

Chattanooga Chuck
Resident Rodent Forecaster
Tennessee Aquarium & IMAX Theater


Listen to the story.


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One Response to “Groundhogs and Other Weather Folklore”

  1. Brock Y. Cox Says:

    Chattanooga Chuck didnt disappoint fans of winter while making his inaugural Groundhog Day forecast. Officials with the Tennessee Aquarium say Chuck went on a stroll through the attractions inside…seeing what he thought was another groundhog. But it turned out to be his shadow. Chuck then appeared at several animal encounters to help visitors learn more about groundhogs..Susie GrantSenior Educator TN Aquarium.Weve been working with this particular woodchuck since we acquired him back in june and helping him to become comfortable and build trust with us and then helping him to do some more natural behaviors so what youre seeing with him climbing up on his log and things like that are very natural behaviors.. Chucks forecast helped kick off a Wild Side of Weather feature at the Aquarium this month..

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