Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata)

Description
hoary marmot

Size

  • The hoary marmot is the largest of the marmots, adults weighing about 6 kilograms (13 pounds).

Appearance

  • The fur of the upperparts is grizzled grey and brown, and the under-parts are grey.
Distribution
  • Hoary marmots occur almost exclusively in the alpine subregion of the Rocky Mountain natural region, only occasionally being found in the montane subregion where talus slopes penetrate the forest.
Natural History

Habitat

  • Hoary marmots live in colonies where they receive mutual protection from predators. If one member of the colony detects danger it will give a long, shrill whistle which is passed along by other members of the colony. After the warning is given, the entire colony disappears into the protection of its rock habitat.
  • The chief predators of this large rodent are golden eagles, and grizzly and black bears. Grizzly bears occasionally tear up a portion of a rock slide in search of marmots hiding in their burrows.

Food

  • Hoary marmots eat a variety of green vegetation in alpine meadows.

When Active

  • Hoary marmots are active from May until they enter hibernation in late August.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • Mating occurs soon after emergence from hibernation in May.
  • Litters of four to five young are born in June, and the young marmots emerge from their burrows in late July.
Conservation and Management

Status

The hoary marmot is classified as Secure in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

 

Page Information

Updated: May 12, 2010