Hoary Marmot

Marmota caligata

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  • Hoary Marmot | The National Geographical Society c1918 Photo: Steve Redman, NPS
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Basic Information

Order

Rodentia

Family

Sciuridae

Size

Hoary Marmots are generally between 23 and 33.5 inches long.

Lifespan

up to 12 years

Weight

Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata) facts, habitat, diet, range, marmot pictures and more to help you learn to identify the large rodent.

Diet

Hoary Marmonts are herbivores, eating primiarly seeds, grasses and other plant matter.

Breeding

Hoary Marmots mate shortly after awakening from hibernation in the spring. Mating behaviors include sniffing, fighting and chasing. Non-fertile females are much less tolerant of males attempting to mount and will vigorously fight. Reproductive females are more accepting of male advances. They only mate ever other year.

Range

Pacific Northwest - Alaska

Number of Offspring

2-5 pups

Observation Tips

Take a rocky hike in Mount Rainier National Park for a great chance at viewing a Hoary Marmot in the wild.

What does the Hoary Marmot look like?

Hoary Marmots are large, stout ground squirrels. They have short, bulky limbs and broad heads. They exhibit sexual dimorphism in that males are considerably larger than females. Overall they have reddish brown fur. The name "hoary" refers to the silver grayish fur on their shoulders and upper back. They have a blackish head with a white patch on the muzzle.

Hoary Marmot Habitat

Mountains

Hoary Marmot Facts

Hoary Marmots spend more than half of their lives hibernating, up eight months a year. During their long nap they survive on fat reserves. Hence when they are not sleeping, they spend the majority of their time eating. They live in loose colonies made of family units, which usually consist of several adults and their offspring. Colonies are generally close to others forming neighborhoods. Young Hoary Marmots will stay with their parents until they reach sexual maturity, up to three years. Males mark their feeding territories we secretions from facial glands and colonies generally stay within these boundaries. They will travel away from the safety of their rocky burrows when feeding; this makes them extremely vulnerable to predators such as birds of prey, wolves, coyotes, foxes and wolverines. When they detect a predator nearby they let out several loud warning cries then bolt for the safety of their burrow. Native Americans hunted Hoary Marmots for their hides, which they used to make clothing.

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