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Forget Groundhog Day! Feb. 2 = Marmot Day, thanks to Sarah Palin

February 2, 2010 |  2:04 am

A Marmot taking the sun

The weirdest thing:

Every year at this very same time on this very same day the very same thing happens: Bill Murray and others talking about groundhogs, of all things. And Pennsylvania, of all places. And none of it has anything to do with Arlen Specter.

This year, however, for a refreshing change we can talk about marmots (See photos). All due to best-selling author Sarah Palin.

That's because thanks to her signature way back when she was a state governor, today is the nation's first official Marmot Day. At least in Alaska.

Try to control your excitement.

The Marmot Day legislation was actually introduced by fellow Wasilla Republican state Sen. Linda Menard. And, hey, since some places have state dinosaurs, what governor is gonna pick a fight over vetoing a bill about something as important as Marmot Day?

As silly as it might sound, a Marmot Day actually makes more sense than a Groundhog Day. Especially in Alaska, which doesn't have any sluggish groundhogs like Pennsylvania Phil or whatever his Chamber of Commerce name is in the Keystone State. Groundhogs have great February PR, but aren't tough enough for Alaska.

Marmots Dancing

Like many Americans these days, marmots look obese, rather like a plus-size ground squirrel after Thanksgiving dinner.

Except marmots are vegans.

Yes, they are rodents. But funny, playful ones, whether city folks believe it or not.

Marmots favor the mountains and rocky mountainsides for their burrows.

Most of them are actually asleep now, which is a wise thing to be at this time of year in eagle country if you are brown and everything else is white.

Next summer, though, if you're hiking or fishing in such areas, just sit down and quietly paws for an hour. Chances are a band of curious marmots will bounce onto the scene like a boisterous, circus troupe of tiny Italian gymnasts.

They chatter, chuckle and whistle, as if hailing a cab in the woods. Some people swear the marmots work mountain paths and passing hikers like teams of urban pickpockets on crowded city sidewalks.

While a couple of the furry comedians distract the humans with a hilariously entertaining show of dancing and rodent wrestling, their unseen partner sneaks up from behind to filch any unattended chips or sandwiches. Some particularly brazen marmots even forage uninvited in idle backpacks to see if they can help lighten the load at all.

But if a human has nothing edible to offer, voluntarily or otherwise, be prepared for a vociferous team scolding.

See, you never know what you might find on The Ticket.

No, this doesn't have much to do politics. Well, except for the entertainment part.

And the filching.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Getty Images

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