If a groundhog sees its shadow, there’s more winter on the way. If it doesn’t see its shadow, spring is coming soon. So what does it mean when a groundhog attacks a cop?
An aggressive groundhog in New Jersey that tried to attack two police officers and one other person was confirmed to have rabies. Police were called to a house because the groundhog in the garage charged the house owner as he tried to get into his truck. The groundhog was subdued with pepper spray (I wonder if anyone has every used a Taser on a groundhog), caught, euthanized and tested for rabies. Fortunately, none of the people came in direct contact with the animal, therefore there was no exposure and rabies post-exposure prophylaxis was not required.
Groundhogs are not high on the list of animals that tend to get rabies. One-hundred twenty-three rabid groundhogs have been identified in the state since 1989 (I’m actually surprised it’s that high), compared to 4 175 raccoons. Like every other mammal, groundhogs are susceptible to rabies virus but they are less likely to carry the virus, because they are rather shy vegetarians and would often not survive attacks from rabid predators. This case is a good reminder that rabies must be considered in any animal acting strangely.