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February 01, 2015

Groundhogs looking for sex, not shadows

Punxsutawney Phil isn't a weatherman, he's looking for love

Groundhog Day Punxsutawney Phil
Punxsutawney Phil Gene J. Puskar/AP

This groundhog is looking for a date.

When Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his burrow on Monday morning, it won't be to make a weather prediction.

Instead, he'll be looking for a mate.

In case you live under a rock, for 128 years a groundhog named Phil has come out of his hole on February 2nd every year to much fanfare in a central Pennsylvania town. The legend goes that if he sees his shadow, we have 6 more weeks of winter. If he doesn't, we'll have an early spring.

Well according to an article in National Geographic, Phil, along with other male groundhogs, come out of their homes this time of year looking for sex, not shadows. The article quotes Stam Zervanos, emeritus professor of biology at Penn State Berks, in Reading, who helps explain the phenomen:

“At this time of year, males emerge from their burrows to start searching for the females,” he explained. “The females come out probably seven days later and stay just outside of their burrow or maybe just inside their burrow.” After the males determine where the females are, both sexes “go back to their winter burrows and spend a little more time in hibernation."

That might explain Phil's shoddy track record. According to Michelle Leighty of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the groundhog has only been right about the weather about 40 percent of the time. 

So don't expect an accurate prediction Monday morning, and remember to try and avoid Ned Ryerson: