The closest African relative to the groundhog never appears.
Well, fact-check first. The truly closest relative to the groundhog is the giant forest squirrel (Protoxerus stangeri mayensis) but it may be extinct. I’ve never seen it, no one seems to care very much about it, and the only picture I could find was of a specimen collected in 1842 that is in a drawer of the Field Museum in Chicago.
But the giant pouched rat (Cricetomys gambianus Waterhouse) definitely exists, because I’ve eaten it.
I didn’t roast it, but our guide roasted it on a skewer to attract the pygmies along the Lobe River in the Cameroun that would then trade the skewered roasted giant pouched rat, to guide us to see lowland gorillas. But we, too, needed dinner.
It tasted just as good as the Guinea Pig I ate in Cuzco.
The main difference between an African groundhog-like animal (the Giant Pouched Rat) and an American groundhog-like animal (the Groundhog) is that the African groundhog-like animal does not appear on Oprah.
Nor does the African variety pretend to forecast weather. There is no movie named “Giant Pouched Rat Day” and in fact no movie made by Africans that is that incessantly trivial. African Giant Pouched Rats do not appear on 7 o’clock local television shows during the weatherman section and they do not appear to have a single day of being loved with 364 days trying to escape the landscape exterminator.
The Groundhog’s better common name is Woodchuck. The African Giant Pouched Rat’s better common name is Big Rat.
However, only the Groundhog is capable of reflecting the stir crazy mentality of someone living in the depths of an endless winter.