As the town of Hope prepares for its Groundhog Day celebration Sunday, the event’s star, Grubby the groundhog, is likewise preparing for the 8:30 a.m. event on the Town Square.

But life hasn’t always been a mix of fun and fanfare.

When Grubby first arrived at UTOPIA Wildlife Rehabilitators four years ago she wasn’t in the best shape. The young groundhog had sustained critical injuries when a chance meeting with a canine out in the wild took a bad turn. Fortunately, UTOPIA president Kathy Hershey and her staff nursed Grubby back to health and during that time, Grubby made a lot of new friends.

As a consequence of Hershey and others working closely with Grubby while she was so young, she became more conditioned and accepting of her human caretakers who would handle her on a regular basis.

“Groundhogs in general are not nice creatures,” Hershey says. “They have the tendency to be snappy and bitey. So, Grubby is certainly an exception to the rule.”

Aside from her annual appearance on the Hope town square to forecast springs arrival, Grubby keeps a pretty low profile.

Most of the time, Grubby busies herself doing groundhog things, Hershey says.

Grubby has some pretty sweet digs at UTOPIA. Her 10-foot by 10-foot multilevel enclosure includes a hollowed out log, a crate, and plenty of things for 4-year-old Grubby to climb and explore. And, because groundhogs love to dig, Hershey and her staff make sure Grubby has a pan of dirt to dig in – since the floor of her enclosure is cement.

On average, groundhogs will move an estimated 1,000 pounds of dirt when they make a burrow, Hershey explains. And the burrows they dig are quite intricately organized with multiple rooms, including a bathroom, play area, sleeping area, and an escape route – just in case.

As the weather has turned cold recently, Grubby spends most of her days sleeping, Hershey says.

“She will get up for about an hour to rearrange her nest, eat, drink and then go back to sleep,” Hershey says. “She is in the middle of hibernation and their biorhythm says this is the time to eat a lot and sleep more.”

However, when spring arrives, Grubby gets to move to her summer home, an outdoor enclosure where she can enjoy the weather and pursue even more of her groundhog hobbies in the warm sun.

Hershey says she and her staff will often hide treats, like nuts and other nutritious goodies, around Grubby’s enclosure so when her innate drive to forage kicks in she isn’t disappointed with the treasures she finds.

Despite her fondness for keeping busy, Grubby is pretty low maintenance when it comes to keeping her in tiptop shape.

Medically speaking, she has few interventions and the only regular visit she counts on is treatment for her malocclusion, a condition where her teeth don’t line up.

“Rodent teeth grow throughout their lives and if they don’t wear on each other properly, they can curve around causing issue with eating and breathing,” Hershey explains.

Sunday morning, Hershey says Grubby will wake up, have breakfast and then get loaded into her familiar box with a blanket to make the trip to the Hope Town Square where she will meet, greet and mingle.

“She is a pleasure to work with and she is very sweet,” Hershey says. “I enjoy the Groundhog Day event a lot and I think it is pretty cool. A lot of people have never really seen a groundhog. They are just like a giant squirrel.”

HSJ Online reached out to Grubby for comment, but she was sleeping.