• Article Image Alt Text
    He’s back...Holland Huckleberry, the third in a distinguished line of weather prognosticators, dons a smaller hat to pose for his first official photo, left.
  • Article Image Alt Text
    At right, baby Hucky, about five weeks old, enjoys a dandelion after polishing off his formula.
  • Article Image Alt Text
    The youngster’s patience sitting for a photo op soon abated. After all, a guy’s gotta eat, center.

Holland/Springfield residents welcome a new Hucky to the community

Most area residents are basking in the recent summer heat that seemed like it would never arrive, but not Charlie and Terri Hoag.

The Springfield Township couple is already anxiously looking forward to February 2, 2020 and Groundhog Day.

This past Groundhog Day arrived without the usual fanfare as Hucky Too had passed away in 2018.

But still the Hoags hosted a party, giving Hucky Too’s final prediction and letting everyone attending know that they hoped to adopt another pet groundhog in the spring and would announce his arrival if they were successful.

That announcement came just a few short weeks ago, when they traveled to Bucyrus, Ohio, to pick up a baby groundhog from a breeder.

Mr. Hoag had nearly given up hope when the breeder said it appeared none of the females had given birth.

But then one day late in the breeding season, the couple received a phone call. “He said he thought one of his groundhogs had given birth to a litter, but didn’t want to get too close.”

He called back a second time to confirm the litter and ask what the Hoags wanted–a boy or girl.

“I told him a boy,” Mr. Hoag said.

The couple brought the little groundhog home and placed him in an old rabbit cage with a blanket, litter box and pet bed. As he grows, he will be placed in one of several larger cages.

Hucky settled in quickly and to the Hoags’ delight, litter box trained himself. “We change the litter box about two or three times a week,” Mrs. Hoag said.

When Hucky arrived, he weighed 13 ounces, but through diligent feedings, has already gained 8 ounces and is growing each day.

Mrs. Hoag acknowledged she is looking forward to the day when Hucky weans himself from the soy-based baby formula mixed with baby oatmeal, which he is fed lovingly using an eye dropper.

“He gets fed every three to four hours,” she said, noting they keep a log of his feedings, “12:30 a.m., 4:30 a.m., 7 a.m...”

If he follows in the steps of his predecessors–Hucky I and Hucky Too–he should be nearly finished with formula.

Mr. Hoag said the other two turned their nose up to formula at about five or six weeks of age, similar to their cousins in the wild who typically are weaned after about 44 days.

He will then be fed guinea pig food, along with other morsels he finds suitable to his palate. “He likes sweet and red clover and dandelions,” Mr. Hoag said.

Whether he develops a taste for goldfish crackers or M&Ms, like Hucky or Hucky Too, has yet to be discovered.

Like any family pet, Hucky needs to be licensed, and the Hoags have applied for a state permit to keep the groundhog at a cost of $25.

They hope he will live at least as long as his predecessors, 10 and 7.5 years respectively, unlike in the wild where the life expectancy is three to six years.

In five years it will be the 25th anniversary, which the couple believes would be an ideal time to retire from the weather prognostication business.

But for now, they are just enjoying their new charge, who loves to nibble at Mr. Hoag’s fingers.

“He’s darker than Hucky Too and has some blue to his eyes,” Mr. Hoag noted,

“But they aren’t as blue as Hucky Too’s eyes were,” Mrs. Hoag added.

Some of the new groundhog’s behaviors mimic his forbearers. He likes to curl up in a ball to sleep or when he prefers to be left alone.

“He’s like Hucky Too. He pretends to sleep when Charlie comes around if he doesn’t want to be bothered,” Mrs. Hoag pointed out.

He also sleeps most of the day after taking in a meal. “He is really active for a few hours each day,” Mr. Hoag said.

Hucky also likes to do somersaults, also an activity the Huckys before him enjoyed.

In his first year, Hucky will likely provide the couple with a reprieve from shedding, which usually occurs in July, before groundhogs begin building their winter coat.

And they are keeping their fingers crossed that they will not need to cut his teeth monthly as they did for Hucky Too, who was not much for gnawing,

The first Hucky was constantly chewing and gnawing on things so his teeth never needed shaved, Mr. Hoag said, adding, “We may not have to with his little one. He chews all of the time.”

And like his namesakes, Hucky is already proving to be pernicious, chewing on his food bowl and cage.

“They’re destructive little guys,” Mr. Hoag said.

As he grows, Hucky is being exposed to as many family and friends as possible.

The couple did the same with Hucky Too and believe that helped form his behavior. “He was laid back and liked people,” Mr. Hoag recalled.

Looking at his young charge, he added, “He’ll be all right.”

The only thing left unresolved is Hucky’s full name and to establish that the couple requested ideas from family and friends who have submitted a number of suggestions such as King Huckleberry III, Holland Huckleford III, Trey Huckster, Three-peat Huck and Holland Tre Hucky.

And what name have they selected? Well, the jury is still out on that. “ We want it to be Hucky______, the shorter the better,” the couple said.

–Jane Maiolo

Editor’s Note: Over the next few months, the Journal will post photos of the groundhog and his adventures as he grows into the official weather prognosticator for northwest Ohio.

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