Marmot Day – The Alaska Groundhog Day

If you’re planning to visit Alaska on the second of February, you’ll be celebrating Marmot day instead of Groundhog day. The celebrations are similar to the events in the contiguous United States, but it is surrounded around an indigenous species, the marmot, due to the absence of groundhogs in Alaska.

Groundhog Day in Alaska does in fact go by a different name. Due to the fact that there are no groundhogs in Alaska natively, marmots were chosen in their place as part of this change of season celebration. Marmots are found in Alaska and are rodents similar to groundhogs.

In this post, I will discuss a lot about Marmot day. And thus, you will understand what the holiday means, how it is observed, and the difference between the animals representing both Groundhog and Marmot day.


What Is the Name of Groundhog Day in Alaska?

Now that we know that Alaska celebrates groundhog day differently and even highlights a different animal altogether, does the name of Groundhog Day in Alaska change? If so, what is it?

Groundhog Day in Alaska is named Marmot Day because of the native animal it is centered around. Groundhogs aren’t found as fart north as Alaska, so the inhabitants chose an indigenous animal to celebrate instead, the marmot. Though the rodents are fairly similar, they are distinct from one another.

It’s true, the name of Groundhog Day in Alaska is Marmot Day. It is always observed on the second of February and it commemorates the marmots in Alaska. Though people wanted to celebrate the same holiday, there aren’t any groundhogs in the region. It is logical for marmots or ground squirrels to act as Alaska’s version of Punxsutawney Phil. 

The bill which was passed did not give the marmots any weather projection duties. However, the state promotes academic activities some festivities around the animals. Celebrating marmots becomes a celebration of Alaska and its people.

What Does Marmot Day Mean?

Marmot day is a holiday designated to observe marmots and the culture of Alaska. Even though the local celebrations have been there for many years, this day became an official one in 2009. Furthermore, it is normally observed every year on the second of February to correspond to the Groundhog Day celebrations.

Marmot Day is a celebration of the the end of Winter and the coming Spring. It mirrors the traditional ‘predictions’ of the southern based groundhogs of coming warm weather or lingering cold. Though the marmot doesn’t have the same predictive storyline, it celebrates the change in seasons.

The marmots which are always celebrated comprise large creatures like squirrels. And they consist of groundhogs, ground squirrels, and wood ducks. Unfortunately, these animals don’t always seem to be recognized even though they can be located in a variety of places. For instance, in Mexico, Canada, India, and Russia. Therefore, the holiday is meant to honor these unique animals around the globe.

How Did Marmot Day Originate?

If it is a companion to the Groundhog Day celebrated in the more southern states, how did Marmot Day catch on? How did Marmot Day Originate?

Marmot day originated as far back as 2002 and became an official holiday following the passing of bill 58 by the state legislature in 2009. It is an official holiday and the celebration takes many different forms. Moreover, it is normally observed every year on February 2nd. 

Though 2002 was when it was first commemorated as a way to recognize all the marmots in Alaska it wasn’t official until 2009. To celebrate this day, many people organize family meals, marmot stories, and jokes to share while they are eating.

Not to be left out of honoring this northern ground squirrel, Michigan offers a similar holiday that is observed on the 25th of July and is the headline of a community ceremony. Owosso, Michigan organizes an event on this day.  The festival offers different family activities, events and also a video competition which is all about marmots.

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What’s the Difference Between Marmot and Groundhog?

There are tons of differences between these two creatures. And they’re based on how they live, their sizes, and weight as I have discussed below;

Identifying Marmots

You can easily identify marmots as they have distinct characteristics. The yellow-bellied ones do have yellow marks on their neck’s sides plus whitish fur between the eyes. Furthermore, they have bellies that range from yellow to red and tan hair with some white tips. 

When it comes to weight, these creatures weigh either eight pounds or even less than that. However, they measure approximately eighteen to 24 inches in length just as the groundhog. The marmots are mainly native to mountainous areas of the western and northern parts of the United States. 

They do create their burrows beneath rocks which allow them to be well protected from predators. The rocks operate well as shields. One of the more interesting things about yellow-bellied marmot is their colonies of twenty members or more. They are very social animals much like another ground squirrel, the prairie dogs.

However, they aren’t as cuddly as they look. They do act as hosts for the ticks which can spread diseases such as rocky mountain spotted fever.

Identifying Groundhogs

Groundhogs look a little different with the coarse and red-brown to even gray fur. Furthermore, they have black or dark brown legs. Their weight is around thirteen pounds and they are also stockier and heavier than the marmots. 

Though groundhogs do live in the east area of the rocky mountains, if you want to see them, you will have better luck in places like Georgia, Alabama, and north along the East Coast to Pennsylvania.

These industrious woodchucks (another name for groundhogs) can create burrows in the ground and they are also known as master builders much like their other rodent cousin, the beaver. 

Their burrows can run between eight to 66ft long. And all the pathways are well established to cover a larger area. Plus, there is still a variety of entry and exit points.

Their burrows have levels and each area has a specific use. There are distinct areas which are used defecating, chilling out, and hibernation rooms. These animals are protective and solitary of their habitat unlike the social Marmots.

Are Marmots Friendly to Humans?

Since there is a day celebrating them and they look like a kid’s fuzzy stuffed animal to some, could people approach marmots or have them as pets? Are marmots friendly to humans?

Marmots are friendly to humans at a distance, though when they see you as an intruder of their privacy they may scurry off or even nip if they see no escape route. Like most wild animals they could respond to offers of food, but it is best to leave them alone in their natural environment. 

Besides, you should realize that they are rodents and are prone to carrying infectious diseases. Take note that this is what makes them harmful to humans more than their nipping.

How to Celebrate Marmot Day

You can celebrate Marmot day by visiting Alaska or Michigan if you reside near these areas or have vaction time around February 2nd. This means you will be lucky enough to be part of those who enjoy their holiday by watching the animals and festivities.

Apart from Alaska and Michigan, other areas also have these types of animals. If you find these ground squirrels intriguing, you could form your own traditions and visit them in the wild.

You can also do your own research of their history online and celebrate from your own home. And when you do that, you will be able to understand them better. You can even post photos and share your opinion about Marmot day just like other individuals on social media platforms.

Wrapping Up Marmot Day, Groundhog Day In Alaska…

Celebrating minor holidays in different ways can give them a much richer purpose. For kids this can also be a learning experience about animals, cultures in the United States, and regions.

Whatever your purpose, these little guys are cute enough to hold the attention of kids and adults alike, at least for a day. The next groundhog day coming your way, remember the marmots and their day in Alaska as well.

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