are also known as "whistlepigs
" because when they are outside their burrows it is common to see one or more individuals standing erect
on their hind legs watching for danger. When alarmed, they use a high-pitched whistle to alert the rest of the colony.
Some settlers in Nevada in the late 1850s, possessed of a warped sense of humor, set out to use this behavior to their advantage. The began collecting groundhogs in live traps and training to whistle on command. Each animal had a distinctive whistle so that, like the infamous barking dogs
version of Jingle Bells
, these merry pranksters were able to have the groundhogs whistle various religious hymns in four-part harmony.
After a great deal of time spent training the groundhogs, they made robes for them out of cloth napkins and took them on tour to their Eastern neighbors in Utah, where they were introduced as The Marmot Table-napkin Choir.