Marmots are members of the genus Marmota, in the rodent family Sciuridae (squirrels).
Marmots are generally large ground squirrels. Those most often referred to as marmots tend to live in mountainous areas such as the Sierra Nevada in the United States or the European Alps. However the groundhog is also properly called a marmot, while the similarly-sized but more social prairie dog is not classified in the genus Marmota but in the related genus Cynomys.
Marmots typically live in burrows, and hibernate there through the winter. Most marmots are highly social, and use loud whistles to communicate with one another, especially when alarmed.
Some historians suggest that marmots, rather than rats, were the primary carriers of the Bubonic plague during several historic outbreaks.
The name marmot comes from French marmotte, from Old French marmotan, marmontaine, from Old Franco-Provencal, from Low Latin mures montani "mountain mouse", from Latin mures monti, from Classical Latin mures alpini "Alps mouse".
Marmots mainly eat greens. They eat many types of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, roots and flowers.
The writings of Marco Polo refer to the marmot as "Pharoah's rats.."
The following is a list of all Marmota species recognized by Wilson and Reeder, 1993
- Gray Marmot or Altai Marmot Marmota baibacina Siberia
- Bobak Marmot Marmota bobak Central Europe to Central Asia
- Alaska Marmot, Brower's Marmot or Brooks Range Marmot Marmota broweri Nearctic
- Hoary Marmot Marmota caligata Northwestern North America
- Black-capped Marmot Marmota camtschatica Eastern Siberia
- Red Marmot, Golden Marmot or Long-Tailed Marmot Marmota caudata Central Asia
- Yellow-bellied Marmot Marmota flaviventris South western Canada, Western United States
- Himalayan marmot or Tibetan Snow Pig Marmota himalayana Himalaya
- Alpine Marmot Marmota marmota Central and Western European Alps, Tatra, introduced into the Pyrenees.
- Menzbier's Marmot Marmota menzbieri Central Asia
- Woodchuck, Groundhog, or Whistlepig Marmota monax North America
- Olympic Marmot Marmota olympus Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA
- Tarvaga, Tarbagan or Mongolian Marmot Marmota sibirica, Siberia
- Vancouver Island Marmot Marmota vancouverensis Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Rodentia
- Family: Sciuridae
- Subfamily: Xerinae
- Tribe: Marmotini
- Genus: Marmota: Blumenbach, 1779
The Gray Marmot (Marmota baibacina) is a species of rodent in the Sciuridae family. It is found in China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Russia.
The bobak marmot (Marmota bobak), also known as the steppe marmot, is a species of marmot that inhabits the steppes of Russia and Central Asia.
The bobak marmot is a large analog of the North American prairie dog, with a particularly round paunch and a laid-back alert posture. Unlike most other species, bobak marmots prosper on rolling grasslands and on the edge of cultivated fields. Active for about five and a half months each year, dispersers leave their natal social group after their second hibernation. Litter sizes average a little over five, and it takes at least three years to reach sexual maturity. About 60% of adult females breed in a given year. They have a single alarm call, but studies have demonstrated that bobak marmots call faster when they live in steep terrain and slower when they live in flatter terrain. Bobak marmots have served as a natural "food" reservoir that saved many Russians from starving to death during periodic famines over the last hundred years, and their fur is used to make hats and the occasional coat. Outside Moscow, a fur-farm is experimenting with breeding bobak marmots in captivity for captive fur production.
Like other marmots, the bobak is susceptible to infection by bubonic plague. A population of bobaks living in the Ural Mountains is believed to have served as a reservoir host for the bubonic plague epidemic that struck western Russia at the end of the 19th century.
The Alaska Marmot (Marmota broweri) is a species of rodent in the Sciuridae family. It is endemic to the United States.
The hoary marmot (Marmota caligata) is a species of marmot that inhabits the mountains of northwest North America. The largest populations are in Alaska. In the northern part of that state they may live near sea level. Hoary marmots live near the tree line on slopes with grasses and forbs to eat and rocky areas for cover. It is the largest North American ground squirrel and is often nicknamed "the whistler" for its high-pitched warning issued to alert other members of the colony to possible danger. The animals are sometimes called "whistle pigs." Whistler, British Columbia is said to be named for these animals.
The "hoary" in their name refers to the silver-grey fur on their shoulders and upper back; the remainder of the upper parts are mainly covered in reddish brown fur. The under parts are grayish. They have a white patch on the muzzle and black feet and lower legs.
These animals hibernate 7 to 8 months a year in burrows that they excavate in the soil, often among or under boulders. Mating occurs after hibernation and 2 to 4 young are born in the spring. Males establish "harems," but may also visit females in other territories. Predators include golden eagles; grizzly and black bears; and wolves.
Unlike most animals their size, hoary marmots are not shy around humans. Rather than running away at first sight, they will often go about their business while being watched.
The Black-capped Marmot (Marmota camtschatica) is a species of rodent in the Sciuridae family. It is endemic to Russia.
Yellow Bellied Marmot
The Yellow-bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris), also known as the Rock Chuck, is a ground squirrel in the marmot genus. It lives in the western United States and southwestern Canada, including the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. It inhabits steppes, meadows, talus fields and other open habitats, sometimes on the edge of deciduous or coniferous forests, and typically above 2000 meters (6500 feet) of elevation. Yellow-bellied Marmots usually weigh between 5 and 11 pounds (2 and 5 kg) when fully grown. They get fatter in the fall just before hibernating. A marmotís habitat is mostly grass and rocks with few trees. Their territory is about 20,000 to 30,000 square meters (about 6 acres) around a number of summer burrows.
Himalayan Marmots are marmots found in the Himalayan regions ranging in elevation from 300 meters to 4,500 meters. They are about the size of a large housecat, and live in colonies. Marmota himalayanus is closely related to the Woodchuck, the Hoary Marmot and the Yellow-bellied Marmot. It has a dark chocolate-brown coat with contrasting yellow patches on its face and chest.
The Alpine Marmot (Marmota marmota) is a species of marmot found in mountainous areas of central and southern Europe. Alpine Marmots live at heights between 800 and 3,200 meters, in the Alps, Tatras, the Pyrenees and Mount Baldo by the Riva del Garda, Italy. They were reintroduced with success in the Pyrenees in 1948, where the Alpine Marmot had disappeared at end of the Pleistocene epoch. They are excellent diggers, able to penetrate soil that even a pickaxe would have difficulty with, and spend up to nine months per year in hibernation. An adult Alpine Marmot may weigh between 4 and 8 kg and reach between 42-54 cm in length (not including the tail, which measures between 13-16 cm on average). This makes the Alpine Marmot the largest squirrel species.
The Menzbier's Marmot (Marmota menzbieri) is a species of rodent in the Sciuridae family. It is found in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Its natural habitat is temperate grassland. It is threatened by habitat loss.
The Olympic Marmot, Marmota olympus, is a marmot (a rodent in the squirrel family Sciuridae). They are found in alpine and sub alpine meadows and talus slopes of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, and are close relatives of the Hoary Marmot.
Like most marmots, they are gregarious burrowing animals. A typical family consists of a male, two to three females and their young. New born marmots stay with their family for at least two years so a burrow will usually be home to a newly born litter and a year old litter. Female marmots have a litter of about four marmots on alternate years. The young do not reach sexual maturity until their third year, perhaps because of the short growing season.
Vancouver Island Marmot
The Vancouver Island Marmot (Marmota vancouverensis) is found only in the high mountainous regions of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada. The species can be distinguished from other marmots by its rich, chocolate brown fur and contrasting white patches. Individuals live in small colonies in sub alpine meadows on steep, avalanche-prone slopes, preferring those with a southern exposure. It usually hibernates 8 months out of the year.
This animal is an herbivore, eating berries, flowers, leaves, roots and bark.