Hoary Marmot Facts
- The most notable things about the remarkable Hoary Marmot might surprise you. That’s because this animal actually represents a variety of ground squirrel. Further, it ranks as the largest in its range.
- Furthermore, this amazing mammal remains a surprisingly intelligent creature. This is evidenced by its behavior patterns. While the colony feeds, a few individuals watch for predators.
- Therefore, if one is seen, the ever vigilant sentry quickly emits a high-pitched warning cry. Due to the nature of this outcry, in some parts of its range it has been given the name of whistle pig.
- Quite thankfully, its numbers appear to be stable for the moment. For this reason, the IUCN currently ranks it as Least Concern. However, that could potentially change due to the actions of man.
Hoary Marmot Physical Description
Firstly, the impressive Hoary Marmot remains a large type of ground squirrel. In addition, it has a bulky build, with a broad head, and short, but powerful limbs. Yet, it also displays a marked degree of sexual dimorphism.
Therefore, in its case, the males grow much larger than females in both it and its subspecies. Mature males average a body length of 22 in (55.9 cm). These same individuals also have a tail averaging 9.8 in (25 cm).
But the females only average 17.3 in (43.9 cm) in body length, and with a tail of 6.7 in (17 cm). Additionally, females tend to be somewhat less stocky in build. Weights for both genders vary significantly, depending on the season.
Further, the term hoary remains a reference to the fur on its upper back and shoulders. That’s because this displays a silvery-gray color. This is in stark contrast to the tan or reddish-brown color the rest of the body shows.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Rodentia
- Family: Sciuridae
- Genus: Marmota
- Species: M. caligata
Hoary Marmot Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Most notably, the fabulous Hoary Marmot inhabits a limited portion of northwest North America. This region includes parts of Idaho, Washington, and Alaska, in the United States, and British Columbia in Canada.
With further precision, it also has specific habitat preferences. These primarily consist of mountainous alpine ecosystems. It also thrives at altitudes of from sea level up to as much as 8,200 ft (2,500 m).
Within that range, individuals may live in either areas of grasslands and sedge, or rocky regions. But it also inhabits several small islands near Alaska. There, it tends to live near the shoreline, having proven adaptable.
The Hoary Marmot appears to be entirely herbivorous in nature. This fascinating large rodent mainly consumes grasses, sedge, leaves, and flowers. It also evolved as diurnal in nature, like many mammals.
Additionally, the animal has a highly prolonged hibernation period. It commonly spends 7-8 months of the year in this state. This period it spends in large, deep burrows, commonly shared by a colony of as many as 36 individuals.