This large, heavily bodied rodent is reddish-brown dorsally, often having a slightly frosted appearance due to light tipped hairs. Its belly is yellowish. It has small fur,covered ears and a prominent, erect tail. Total length is 20 - 28 inches (500 - 700 mm), tail length is 5 1/8 to 8 ¾ inches (130-220 mm), they weigh 3.5 - 11 pounds (1.6-5 kilograms). melanistic forms appear in various local populations of Idaho. Early settlers in Idaho called the marmot "whistle pigs", perhaps a good name since this marmot is fat appearing and it spends considerable time basking in the sun. If danger appears, however, it gives a shrill whistle as an alarm call. Many Idahoans also call them "rockchucks", a common name probably derived from the eastern "woodchuck" or "groundhog".
From south-central British Columbia and southern Alberta, south to southern California and northern New Mexico.
Found (typically above 2000 m) in meadows, valleys, and foothills, often in open areas where forest and meadow form a mosaic. In Idaho, prefers talus slopes, rocky outcroppings and rimrock.
Feeds on wide variety of grasses and forbs.
At higher elevations, marmots may hibernate from early September to May; at lower elevations they emerge late February to mid-March. In more boreal zones, they may be active all summer, but begin aestivation in June at lower elevations. They burrow under rocks, logs, or bushes in areas of well-drained talus, rock outcrops, or scattered boulders. Their burrows may be up to 15 feet long and provide protection against predators, extremely high summer temperatures and cold temperatures during hibernation. The area over which they range varies from about 2.5 acres to 155 acres (1 ha to 70 or more). While they are social mammals, they occasionally live alone, but usually in pairs, or colonies. A colony typically consists of 1 or more adult territorial males and 1 to 5 adult females and their young. Most colonies do not exceed 1 male and 3 females. Small habitat patches may include a female and offspring, but adult males and yearlings may not be present. Virtually all males and slightly less than half of the females disperse from their natal colony, typically as yearlings. dispersal distance usually is less than 2.5 but up to 10 miles (4-15.5 km) for males, and 4 miles (6.4 km) for females. They may harbor fleas that are vectors of plague or ticks which transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A primary mortality factor is hibernation and they are preyed on by larger predators such as golden eagles, coyotes, cougars and others.
Mating usually occurs within 2 wk after hibernation. Gestation lasts about 30 days. litter varies between 3-8 young/yr. Young remain in burrow for 20-30 days, and emerge in late June to mid-July (Colorado). At highest elevations, females rarely produce litters in consecutive years. Males typically first breed at age 3 or older.
|Status:||Unprotected nongame species|