Himalayan marmot

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Himalayan marmot
Himalayan Marmot at Tshophu Lake Bhutan 091007 b.jpg
Himalayan marmot at Tshophu Lake, Bhutan altitude 4100 m.
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Sciuridae
Genus: Marmota
Subgenus: Marmota
Species: M. himalayana
Binomial name
Marmota himalayana
(Hodgson, 1841)

The Himalayan marmot is a marmot found in the Himalayan regions ranging in elevation from 300 to 4,500 metres (980 to 14,760 ft). They can be seen in a wide arc from Ladakh in northern India eastwards across the higher reaches of the Himalayas and much of Tibet to Nepal, Bhutan, and Arunachal Pradesh in northeastern India. They are about the size of a large housecat, and live in colonies. Marmota himalayana 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 'gold-digging ants' of Herodotus[edit]

Research by the French ethnologist Michel Peissel makes a claim that the story of 'gold-digging ants' reported by the Greek historian Herodotus, who lived in the 5th century BC, was founded on the golden Himalayan marmot of the Deosai plateau and the habit of local tribes such as the Minaro to collect the gold dust excavated from their burrows.[2]



  1. ^ Molur, S. & Shreshtha, T. K. (2008). Marmota himalayana. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
  2. ^ Peissel, Michel. "The Ants' Gold: The Discovery of the Greek El Dorado in the Himalayas". Collins, 1984. ISBN 978-0-00-272514-9.
  • Thorington, R. W. Jr. and R. S. Hoffman. 2005. Family Sciuridae. pp. 754–818 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

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