Yellow-bellied marmot is a type of the large ground squirrel. These animals can be found in different parts of the south-west Canada and in the western parts of the United States. Yellow-bellied marmot prefers open habitats such as edges of the forests, alpine meadows, pastures and steppes. They are usually located on the 6.560 feet but they can survive even on the higher altitudes (up to 13.450 feet). Yellow-bellied marmot is not endangered species.
Yellow-bellied Marmots are mammals with grizzled brownish fur, a yellow belly, and whitish spot between eyes.
Yellow-bellied marmot reaches 13.4 to 19.7 inches in length (from head to tail) and 3.3 to 11 pounds in weight.
They have small round ears, a short white muzzle and black nose.
Their tail has 4.7 to 8.7 inches in length.
Their body is heavy-set with short legs and a furry reddish-brown tail.
Fur of the yellow-bellied marmot is yellowish to brown in color. They have yellow patches on the side of the neck and the fur of reddish to yellowish color on the underside.
Male marmots are heavier than females.
Yellow-bellied marmot has short muzzle and small ears covered with fur.
Yellow-bellied marmots range from southwestern Canada throughout the western United States including the Rockies, Sierra Nevada and intermountain west.
Yellow-bellied marmot does not have excellent eyesight because it is short-sighted, but it has excellent sense of smell and hearing. Last two senses allow it to find food and stay away from the predators.
They typically live in open habitats such as steppes, alpine meadows, pastures, gravel-covered fields and forest edge.
Yellow-bellied marmot is a diurnal animal (active during the day). Most time it spends on the ground (terrestrial animal), but it is also capable for climbing on the shrubs and trees.
They dig their burrows in open, grassy or herb-covered slopes.
Yellow-bellied marmot is vegetarian. Its diet consists of grass, flowers, seeds and herbs.
In Washington, Yellow-bellied marmot is always at lower elevations, in more arid situations than the Hoary Marmot.
Yellow-bellied marmots dig complex system of burrows which contains several entrances, tunnels and “emergency exits”, which are used as a shelter from the predators and as a den for hibernation and for the breeding of the young animals. Burrows are usually 3.3 feet deep, but they can reach 23 feet when build for hibernation.
Yellow-bellied marmots are herbivores – feeding on the leaves and blossoms of a variety of plants and grasses.
Yellow-bellied marmots live in the small groups composed of the single male and two to three adult females. Sometimes, these small groups gather and form large colonies.
Yellow-bellied marmots also eat grains, legumes, fruit, and occasionally insects.
Males are territorial. They use special type of secretion of facial glands to mark the territory by rubbing this secretion into the boulders and burrows. Unlike aggressive behavior typical for males, females are very kind to one another.
Yellow-bellied marmots are mainly diurnal.
Yellow-bellied marmot is also known as a “whistle pig” because it produces high-pitched sounds (whistle) as an alert to other members of the group when the predator is detected.
They spend most of the time on the ground (terrestrial), but occasionally will climb shrubs and trees.
Main predators of the yellow-bellied marmots are foxes, coyotes and wolves.
Yellow-bellied marmot hibernate from September to May, although hibernation length varies with elevation.
Depending on the altitude which they inhabit and the length of the cold period, they hibernate six or more months each year. During hibernation, their metabolic and heart rate decrease and they burn the body fats collected during the summer to gain energy required for survival. Yellow-bellied marmot is not a true hibernator – it awakes from time to time.
Yellow-bellied marmots whistle, chuck, and trill when alarmed by predators.
Breeding season takes place after emerging from the hibernation. Pregnancy lasts 30 days and it ends with three to eight babies. Female gives birth in the nest coated with the grass.
Marmots are rodents, closely related to both ground squirrels and prairie dogs.
Young yellow-bellied marmot leaves the nest for the first time after three weeks of birth. Babies drink mother’s milk for the first five weeks of their life. They will reach sexual maturity at the age of two years.
The only US holiday named after an animal, Groundhog Day, is named after a marmot.
Yellow-bellied marmot lives up to 15 years in the wild.