Yellow-Bellied Marmot

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The yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris), also known as the rock chuck, is a large, stout-bodied ground squirrel in the marmot genus. It is one of fourteen species of marmots, and is native to mountainous regions of southwestern Canada and western United States, including the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada, and Mount Rainier in the state of Washington, typically living above 2,000 metres (6,500 feet). The fur is mainly brown, with a dark bushy tail, yellow chest and white patch between the eyes, and they weigh up to approximately 5 kilograms (11 pounds). They live in burrows in colonies of up to twenty individuals with a single dominant male. They are diurnal and feed on plant material, insects, and bird eggs. They hibernate for approximately eight months starting in September and lasting through the winter. Yellow-bellied marmots usually weigh from 1.6–5.2 kg (3 lb 8 oz–11 lb 7 oz) when fully grown, though males typically weigh more than females. The weight fluctuates quite drastically through the year, with the least measured in early spring and the most measured in early autumn. Adult males typically weigh between 3–5 kg (7–11 lb) and adult females typically weigh between 1.6–4 kg (3 1⁄2–9 lb). They measure from 47–68 cm (18 1⁄2–27 in) in length, have a short tail measuring 13–21 cm (5–8 1⁄2 in) with buffy, reddish and black hairs and hindfoot measuring 7–9 cm (3–3 1⁄2 in). They have a rather frosty appearance with some of the guard hairs having pale tips with dark bands. The yellow-bellied marmot has a broad and flat skull, dark head, and a dark nose with a white furry patch. The pelage comprises coarse, long outer hairs and woolly, shorter underfurs. They have a brown coat, a white patch of fur on the snout in front of the eyes. Due to the bright yellow fur on their belly, sides of the neck, and throat, they get their scientific and common names. Their ears are small and round, measuring 1.8–2.2 cm (11⁄16–7⁄8 in) in length, having a short white muzzle. Their back is reddish-brown in color with grizzled black and light-grey tan. Their feet are yellowish to dark brown to in color. They gain additional fat reserves in the autumn, in preparation for hibernation. The yellow-bellied marmot lives in southwestern Canada and western United States, including the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada. Northwards, its range extends into the southern British Columbia and goes eastwards up to the montane and basin regions of Wyoming, eastern Montana, Colorado, and southern Alberta. Southwards, its range extends into northern New Mexico. It inhabits steppes, meadows, talus fields, and other open habitats, sometimes on the edge of deciduous or coniferous forests, and found from as low as 1,600 m (5,400 ft) to over 4,300 m (14,000 ft) of elevation. They are found in valleys, meadows, and foothills, and tend to occupy open areas which are free of vegetation. Their territory is about 2.5 hectares (6 acres) around a number of burrows dug during the summer. They choose to dig burrows under rocks, as it is less likely to be visible to predators. These predators include foxes, dogs, coyotes, wolves, and eagles. Upon seeing a predator, the yellow-bellied marmot whistles to warn the others in the area, after which it typically hides in a nearby rock pile until there is no more threat.



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