Jacksonville hedgehog predicts spring coming soon

By Kumasi Aaron, Reporter, weekend anchor, kaaron@wjxt.com
Published On: Feb 02 2014 01:04:27 PM EST
Updated On: Feb 03 2014 02:40:47 AM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Many people came out to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens to see if Penelope the Hedgehog would predict an early spring or a longer winter.

"I was thinking that we were in for a couple more weeks of cold weather but Penelope has corrected that," explains Tony Vecchio, executive director of the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. "She's thinking a really warm spring and coming soon."

Insectivores eat insects and Vecchio says when you eat insects have to be good at predicting the weather.

"Penelope is an African hedgehog," Vecchio says. "They are great weather predictors because they are insectivores. So we brought her here to help figure out what the weathers going to do in the near future."

Zoo officials looked at several factors to make the determination.
First, the hedgehog's body fat, which was normal.
Officials say if she knew it was going to be a long winter she'd have a lot of belly fat there.

Secondly, Penelope's eyes get really bright and alert when it's time to get up and start hunting insects.

"When you wake up and its the middle of the winter and there are no insects around you're going to starve to death." Vecchio says. "So they have to know exactly when th insects are going to be available so they are very good at knowing what the weather is going to do."

Lastly, Vecchio says Penelope's activity level is higher, which is a clear signs that spring is right around the corner

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