Yellow-bellied Marmots (Marmota flaviventris)
Yellow-bellied marmots are a relatively large species of rodent related to woodchucks. They can be seen sunning themselves on rocks or foraging in forests or alpine tundra habitats. They are incredibly adept at scrambling along sheer cliffs and will almost always be found near some sort of rocky outcropping. Catching a glimpse of a marmot shouldn’t be too difficult. Just get out and go for a hike in the park, and you will have a good chance to spot one. A favorite forage of marmots are lupines and columbines, both of which are readily available in the summer months in GRTE. Next time you stroll through the mountains you might just hear some of their whistles or chucks, used to communicate with neighbors!
Like many other animals, marmots are being negatively affected by warming temps due to climate change. Studies show that they come out of hibernation up to 23 days earlier than they did 50 years ago. Lack of good forage at these earlier dates makes it much less likely that they will survive after coming out of their den. If you want to learn more about these rock-dwelling rodents, look here: Wildlife Land Trust, “Yellow-Bellied Marmots.”
Written by Timothy Uttenhove
PC: Timothy Uttenhove