about marmots (woodchucks &c.):
- marmots are basically squirrels with a weight problem
- “wuchak” is a Cree word whose corruption is supposed to have given rise to the English “woodchuck.” However, “wuchak” apparently means “fisherman” in Cree and the name originally applied to the fisher (“Martes” pennamti), a large weasel that bears almost no resemblance whatsoever to a woodchuck/groundhog/marmot aside from being furry and brown. Except, hold on a minute, the name “fisher” has nothing to do with “fishermen” in the first place, it’s supposedly a corruption of the French word for a polecat pelt “Fichet.” So it’s not entirely clear why the Cree word for “fisherman” should be used for either animal. So, WTF? “Wuchak”?
- Marmota monax is more closely related to Eurasian marmots than the mountain marmots of the American west, suggesting that a band of intrepid groundhogs once (or perhaps more than once) crossed Beringia and invaded Eurasia, although some other scenarios are possible.
- awesomely, wikipedia has six suggested responses to the old “how much wood…” tongue-twister, three of which are properly referenced with footnotes. Astonishingly, the response I learned as a child “A woodchuck would chuck lots of wood if a woodchuck could chuck wood” is absent although, admittedly, it’s not very imaginative compared to, say “42 pounds.” Still, any wikipedia editors out there, feel free to cite microecos on that one.
- here is a recipe for fried woodchuck, from this very useful site. I would bet this recipe could be adapted for any medium – large rodent, you might want to adjust the cooking time:
1 tbsp salt
1 cup flour
2 tbsp fat
Clean woodchuck; remove glands; cut into 6 or 7 pieces. Parboil in salted water for 1 hour. Remove from broth; roll in flour and fry in hot fat (deep fat may be used) until brown. Serves 6.
- More over at Oryctology.