New Jersey’s groundhog Milltown Mel unexpectedly passed away days before his annual show, so readers are now curious to know his age and the average lifespan of a marmot.
The gang of celebrity groundhogs are missing a member this year – the Garden State’s very own Milltown Mel died just days before Groundhog Day 2022.
Mel’s handlers, the Milltown Wranglers, announced the tragic news on Facebook on Sunday, 30 January, writing:
“We Wranglers are sad to report that Milltown Mel recently crossed over the rainbow bridge. Mel left us at a tough time of year, when most of his fellow groundhogs are hibernating.”
The state’s annual event has been cancelled since there are no other groundhogs to replace Mel in time.
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Milltown Mel the groundhog age revealed
Milltown Mel is six years old, as per The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The groundhog became a New Jersey celebrity in 2015 after replacing the former Mel.
Mel’s previous predictions:
- 2015: six more weeks of winter
- 2016: six more weeks of winter
- 2017: early spring
- 2018: early spring
- 2019: six more weeks of winter
- 2020: early spring
- 2021: early spring
According to PBS, the marmots can live up to six years, with an average of two or three years old in the wild. In captivity, however, they can live up to 14 years, hence why Mel’s passing was unexpected.
Mel isn’t the first New Jersey groundhog to pass away prior to his big day: Stonewall Jackson, owned by state assemblyman Parker Space, died one night before Groundhog Day 2016.
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Tune into Mel’s friends
New Jersey’s other prognosticator, Essex Ed, will be passing on his duties to younger cousin Essex Edwina at this year’s event.
The two most famous groundhogs are undoubtedly Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil, and Staten Island’s Chuck. Despite Phil being the leading marmot, Live Science claims that he only has a 47% success rate, while Chuck had 80%, according to a 2012 NY Post article.
Some of Mel’s other friends:
- Balzac Billy – Balzac, Alberta
- Sir Walter Willy – Raleigh, North Carolina
- Shubencadie Sam – Nova Scotia,
- Buckeye Chuck – Marion, Ohio