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Marmot Facts

Size 16-28 in (42-72 cm)
Speed Unknown
Weight 5-17 lb (2-8 kg)
Lifespan Unknown
Food Grasses, herbs, fruits
Predators Foxes, wolves
Habitat North America, Canada, Asia, Europe
Order Rodentia
Family Squirrels
Scientific name Marmota
Characteristics Rodents which often rise up on their hind legs

Main Characteristics

Marmots are large ground squirrels and belong to the rodent family. They are known for standing upright often and whistling loudly when there is a danger, for example a bird of prey like an eagle.

Marmot Photo: Astrid Gast/Shutterstock


There are 14 marmot species, including the Yellow-bellied marmot and the woodchuck (in Canada), the Himalayan marmot, the Siberian marmot and the long-tailed marmot (in Central Asia). The Alpine marmot is best known in Europe.


Distribution and Habitat

Marmots prefer living in mountainous areas up to 7,200 feet (2,200 meters) high. Some also live in grassland, for example the steppe marmot. They mainly feed on grasses and herbs and build branched tunnels with escape tubes. When it gets winter, they hibernate in their burrows for seven to nine months.

Marmot Photo: Peter Fodor/Shutterstock

Life Style

The little rodents cannot cope with heat. For them, 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) feel like 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit (36 degrees Celsius) in the blazing sun because of their thick coat. Where is the zipper?


Do Marmots Murmur?

This would be funny to watch, but marmots do not murmur. Their name originates from the Old High German word “murmunto” which comes from the Latin “mures montis” (mountain mouse). In Bavaria, chubby rodents are called Mankei, in Switzerland people name them Murmeli or Marmotte.

Why Do They Stand on Their Hind Legs?

Marmots spend most of their time underground, but when they leave their burrows they can quite often be seen to rise on their hind legs. This can have two reasons: Either they want to get a better overview of the surroundings and hidden enemies or they use their front paws to contendtedly stuff some grass into their mouths.


Marmots Are Tunnel Experts

Marmots build complex tunnel systems in which other animals could easily get lost. The longest tunnel that has been discovered so far was 370 feet (113 meters) long.

Do Marmots Hibernate?

Many animals do not like to go outside during the winter. At -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degees Celsius), marmots love to stay in their cosy and warm burrow. They huddle together and reduce their body temperature to 43 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) to save energy. The smallest marmots are placed in the middle as this is the warmest spot. Up to 20 marmots thus form one large furball underground.

Marmot Photo: Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock

Fun Facts

The World’s Most Famous Marmot

A very special marmot is living in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (USA): “Phil“ is the local weatherman. Every year on 2nd February, he is asked to predict the end of the winter.

Of course, Phil cannot speak, but when he wakes up after seven months of hibernating, leaves his burrow and casts a shadow on the ground with his body, the winter is said to last six more weeks. If he doesn’t cast a shadow, the spring should be near. The event is very spectacular with lots of cameras, TV presenters and onlookers.

The “Groundhog Day” became popular with the Hollywood movie of the same name, yet it is not an American “invention”. Settlers from Europe brought this popular belief to the United States.

Marmot Photo: David Havel/Shutterstock

The Marmot Is Related To:

  • Ground Squirrel
  • Prairie Dog

Animals in the Same Biome:

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