|Yellow-Bellied Marmot in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park|
(Audubon and Bachman, 1841)
Habitat and distribution
The yellow-bellied marmot (rockchuck) lives in the western United States and southwestern Canada, including the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. It inhabits steppes, meadows, talus fields and other open habitats, sometimes on the edge of deciduous or coniferous forests, and typically above 6,500 feet (2,000 m) of elevation.
Their territory is about 4 to 7 acres (2 to 3 ha) around a number of summer burrows. Marmots choose to dig burrows under rocks because predators are less likely to see their burrow. Predators include wolves, foxes, coyotes, dogs and eagles. When a marmot sees a predator, it whistles to warn all other marmots in the area (giving it the nickname "whistle pig"). Then it typically hides in a nearby rock pile.
Behavior and diet
Marmots reproduce when about two years old, and may live up to an age of fifteen years. They reside in colonies of about ten to twenty individuals. Each male marmot digs a burrow soon after he wakes up from hibernation. He then starts looking for females, and by summer may have up to four female mates living with him. Litters usually average three to five offspring per female. Marmots have a "harem-polygynous" mating system in which the male defends two or three mates at the same time.
Yellow-bellied marmots spend about 80% of their life in their burrow, 60% of which is spent hibernating. They often spend mid-day and night in a burrow as well. These burrows are usually constructed on a slope, such as a hill, mountain, or cliff.
- Linzey, A. V. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.) (2008). Marmota flaviventris. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
- Ballenger, L. (2002). "Marmota Flaviventris: Information". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved 2007-09-12.
- Svendsen, Gerald E (January 10 1976). "Structure and Location of Burrows of Yellow-Bellied Marmot". The Southwestern Naturalist 20 (4): 487–493.
- Habitat of the Yellow-bellied Marmot[dead link]
- "Marmota flaviventris". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 18 March 2006.
- 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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