Marmota caligata
(Hoary Marmot)

Order: Rodentia
Order Description:Rodents
Family: Sciuridae
Family Description: Chipmunks, Marmots and Squirrels

The hoary marmot is quite large, with a silver-gray color above, a brownish rump and it is white underneath. It has black and white markings on its head and shoulders. Its tail is conspicuous, reddish-brown and quite bushy. Total length is nearly 18 to 32 ¼ inches (450-820 mm), its tail is 6 ¾ to 9 ¾ inches (170-250 mm), and its weights 8 to 20 pounds (3.6-9 kg).

From Alaska to Yukon, and south to Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana. Idaho distribution is not well known, particularly along southern end of range.

Found on talusClick word for definition slopes and alpine meadows, often high in mountains near timberline. In Idaho, prefers rocky granitic habitats in subalpine and higher elevations.

Diet consists almost entirely of grasses and other herbaceousClick word for definition plants.

Its silvery appearance provides good camouflage in its rocky habitat. Its burrows are large, 9 to 15 inches in diameter, and of course, it often burrows under rocks. Like most “ground inhabiting squirrels” it rapidly gains weight prior to hibernationClick word for definition. They hibernateClick word for definition from October through February in its southern range, from September to April in British Columbia. It gives off a loud, shrill whistle when disturbed that is louder than other marmots. They are preyed on by eagles and other carnivores that inhabit their range, plus they are occasionally dug up from their hibernation burrows by grizzly bears who emerge from hibernation earlier than the hoary marmots. In the northern part of their range (Canada and Alaska), their fur is used for parkas, and they are also consumed by humans for food.

Mating occurs shortly after emerging from hibernation. A female gives birth to 4 to 5 young about a month after breeding.

Status: Unprotected nongame species

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Information written by Donald Streubel,© 2000
Map image provided by
Stephen Burton,© 2000
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.