Happy (almost) Groundhog Day!
It’s that time of year again – the heartwarming holiday season has passed and now we’re all counting down the days until the temperatures rise and spring is finally here! So, to discover how much longer we’ll have to trudge through the snow for, we’ll be honouring the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of Groundhog Day this upcoming Saturday, February 2nd, by watching a groundhog on national television. We know you’re preoccupied with hoping our furry little friend doesn’t see his shadow, BUT, in the spirit of oral health, we wanted to fascinate you with these fun facts about Groundhog and their teeth.
Groundhogs teeth NEVER stop growing.
Growth averages about 1/16 of an inch per week, and their “incisors”, which they have 4 of, are around 4 inches long! 18 chewing teeth take place behind these incisors separated by a large gap. But despite the size of these massive incisors, a Groundhog’s teeth don’t stick out of his mouth! WHAT!?
Their jaws have a wide range of movement.
Their jaws move both side to side and up and down for optimal chewing. This helps them chew through hard matter like sticks and larger pieces of wood to build their homes and burrows.
Groundhogs are rodents (seriously!)
And large ones at that. They are usually found in lowlands of the US, Canada and Alaska.
They build extravagant homes
These cute little guys live in burrows that are 25 to 30 feet long and from 2 to 5 feet deep, with at least 2 entrances – just like us! The main entrance is identified by having a large mound of freshly dug dirt nearby. There is a nesting chamber for sleeping and raising the children, and a separate toilet chamber! Some even have two burrows – a winter den in woodland areas that are deep enough to keep them from freezing and a summer home in open flat areas. We don’t even have a vacation home…!?
Groundhogs have many names!
They are also called whistle-pigs, land beavers, or woodchucks (though they do not, in fact, chuck wood. True story).
They work hard at keeping their teeth clean
Did you know these guys take special care for their teeth? They chew through grass and leaf roots to keep their teeth in tip-top condition. Such strong teeth for teeth with no enamel! This also ensures they can keep the growth of their front teeth in check. If they didn’t, their teeth could actually impale their jaws. So don’t get on a groundhog’s bad side – they are known to use these large incisors (and sharp claws) to attack their predators.
So this February 2nd, when you turn on your television or radio to determine how much longer you have to endure the cold, remember our buddy the Groundhog and his incredibly strong teeth, lounging in his winter den, longing to be, just like you, in his summer home.