Chipmunks, Squirrels, Ground Squirrels and Marmots
Squirrel Family (Sciruidae)
Measurement: Size: 72 cm Weight: Up to 5.5 kg
Description: The whistling call of the hoary marmot is a welcome sound in the high country of the Canadian and northern American Rockies. Follow your ears and you may be lucky enough to spot this high country rodent. Look for a very large rodent with a reddish peppered back and light underside. They have a dark head and shoulders, with a distinctive light patch around the nose and on the forehead. Their long, bushy tail is reddish. The feet are black.
Don't bother looking for marmots unless you work your way into the high country. They are found only in vegetation rich subalpine and alpine areas. They are strictly western, found from the Canadian Rockies west. Their range extends south into the northern US Rockies.
Marmots are aggressive herbivores feeding on a diversity of high elevation flowers, leaves, seeds, grasses and berries.
Their large size makes them a welcome meal for black and grizzly bear, wolves, and eagles.
Like most rodents, mating takes place shortly after coming out of hibernation. Male marmots try to gather harems and mate with as many females as possible, even straying from their home range for the privilege.
Notes: Marmots are a welcome sight in the high country. In Jasper National Park, Whistler's Mountain and Marmot basin are both named for this high country rodent.