5 Furry Philly Groundhog Day Alternatives to Punxsutawney Phil

AmericanOpossum PiccoloNamek, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons. Eastern Gray Squirrel, Philadelphia, PA” | HRae, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

There is nothing wrong with Punxsutawney Phil.

In fact, for a groundhog, the little guy is pretty cute. Getting a bit chubby in the cheeks, perhaps, but by February, who isn’t. Maybe he really can predict the weather, or maybe he only emerges from his cozy winter burrow for the same reason we all eventually do. Either way, he’s a good-natured Groundhog Day MC, and for that we should be grateful — especially since he forecasted an early spring this morning.

But growing up in the city, I can’t say that I’ve ever actually seen a groundhog, much less a groundhog meteorologist.

What I did see on Saturday afternoon was the world’s mangiest sparrow struggling to carry a Cheetos Crunchy Flamin’ Hot down Second Street. As my dogs and I approached, he fluffed up what were left of his post-blizzard feathers and teetered toward us, one wiry little foot at a time, as if to say, “Come one step closer and you’ll be sorry, lady — and your little dogs, too.” We backed off, and eventually he was able to secure his cargo, flying away to enjoy it in the safety of my neighbor’s gutter.

Did this mean that we’re looking at six more weeks of Cheetos-hoarding weather? Who knows, but I’d trust my little orange-dusted friend to know what’s up in Philadelphia over a backwoodsy groundhog. (No offense, Phil — you did good this morning, and I’d love to believe you.) I’d trust these guys, too.

Fishtown possums
If you’ve ever lived in Fishtown, you know that’s not an ugly cat staring at you from under the car — that’s a possum. A sign of spring? Your recycling bucket has been ransacked, and there’s a baby possum stuck inside a marinara jar. (Fun fact: Baby possums are absolutely adorable, and they absolutely will bite you. Should you drive your orphaned possum to the good folks at the Schuylkill Wildlife Center, make sure to tape down the shoebox lid a little tighter than you’d think. Seriously.)

Navy Yard foxes
I’ve worked at the Navy Yard for three years now, and it wasn’t until the other week that I finally spotted one of the rumored foxes. It was absolutely stunning, from its bushy, fire-orange tail to its bright, cat-like eyes. As I neared she paused and — like a true Navy Yard inhabitant — slowly looked my outfit up and down with what I immediately recognized as pity. Sign of spring: She’s wearing culottes, and she’s wearing them way better than you.

South Philly window cats
A staple in South Philly row homes, the window cat watches the world pass by from its cozy perch, judging every passerby’s every step. The more pissed off it looks, the more likely that spring is approaching with its sunshine and flowers and Peeps. Window cat, like all cats, hates that which brings you joy.

West Philly squirrels
After two semesters of gorging on Penn’s gourmet dumpsters, West Philly squirrels can barely walk come spring, and they certainly can’t be bothered to forage. You’ll know things are warming up for good once they’re passed out in Clark Park, too bloated and stoned to care about the hustler sparrow making off with their Cheetos.

Northeast Philly squirrels
Are they wearing one of these fucking hats? Then it’s probably spring. But who knows—St. Patrick’s Day starts mid-February in the Northeast.

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