The Yellow-Bellied Marmot, or Marmota flaviventris is a beautiful creature that makes its home from the mountains of southwestern Canada down through the western United States. Known for their endearing appearance and inquisitive nature, marmots are both resilient and hearty mammals.
Diet and Range: Living at elevations of 5,000' - 13,000', their diet consists mainly of various flowers, leaves and grasses depending on its geographic location and they are also known to eat insects, fruits and grains. Marmots make their homes in expansive burrow systems that have multiple entrance and exit points used to facilitate travel and evade predators.
Predators include the mountain lion, coyote, badger, bobcat, golden eagle, hawks, owls, weasels and marten. Marmot burrows average a depth of 3-5 feet, but can reach depths of 15-20 feet during the winter, when marmots go into hibernation. Their hibernation can last from September through May in the higher elevations and is significantly shorter in the lower elevations. The burrows are connected by an intricate tunnel system which have been know to run as long as 40-100 feet in length.
Mating: Marmots spend the majority of their time undergound in their burrows when not foraging for food or lying out in the sun. Marmots give birth only once a year and the average litter is between 3-5 pups. Birth always occurs shortly after hibernation, and the vulnerable pups are kept in the underground burrows for a full three weeks until they are strong enough to accompany their mother into the world above. Marmots reach their sexual maturity at two years of age and the average lifespan of a marmot is between 10-15 years.
Behavior and Territory: The social life of a marmot is quite good. Each male is generally accompanied by a virtual harem of 2-4 females who share the child-rearing with each other. The females tend to get along very well, while the males are quite territorial and aggressive towards each other. Each pod of marmots has a territory that spans almost 2 acres.
Physical Description: The yellow-bellied marmot gets its name from it's yellow to tan-hued underside. It also has marked yellow speckles on the sides of its neck, with a patch of white between its eyes and nose. The marmot has a rich dark brown coat, which was often used a head cover in the winter for early American Indians. The male marmot can anywhere from 6.5 - 11.5 pounds and is much larger than the female who can weigh between 3.5 - 8.5 pounds. In general, the marmot is a bit smaller than an average housecat.