Flat Groundhog is Not Roadkill
When you see an animal flattened out on the concrete, it usually means the poor critter met an untimely end under the wheels of a large motorized vehicle. But not always.
What is the chubby rodent doing in this position if it's not roadkill, you ask? Well, you probably know that cold-blooded animals such as snakes, lizards and turtles need to bask in the sun to raise their body temperatures. As warm-blooded mammals that regulate their body temperatures internally, groundhogs don't need to bask in the sun to maintain their temperature.
But that doesn't mean that basking in the sun doesn't feel good. My best interpretation of this behavior as a naturalist is that this furry critter is sunbathing. Just like people heading to the beach in the summer, this groundhog seems to simply be catching some rays.
That sounds odd, but I've actually known groundhogs to do odder things in summer. When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey, we had an inground swimming pool. We also had a groundhog that lived in a burrow underneath a large woodpile in the woods just over our fence. Each day around mid-morning, this particular groundhog would emerge from underground, climb the fence, and go for a swim. He even used the steps in the shallow end to get in and out of the pool!
And I know Groundhog Day is months away, but here's a video about groundhogs and their ability to predict the beginning of spring.
Photo by Jessica Sessions.