The Alpine marmot

In the heart of the clearing, a handful of boulders are scattered, rugged rocks sculpted by the river that once wound its way through the forest. Surrounded by a bucolic carpet of tender grass and fragrant wild flowers, this lovely spot is sunny and quite charming. A family of marmots has settled in this small corner of paradise. One of them, a chubby animal that is as cute as a button is basking its smile in the sun, the picture of happiness. Suddenly, it is startled by a noise... In a flash, the marmot jumps up, whistles and scarpers!

The star of the mountains

The Alpine marmot is a small rodent that lives in the Alpine valleys. It has two pairs of large incisors, on its upper and lower jaw. Their incisors are pointy and very sharp, and grow constantly. Marmots also have very sharp claws which help them dig out their burrows. They tend to dig their burrows in open spaces (so they can spot any potential predators approaching) with a lot of sun (they love to bask in the sun). They are not easy to spot as they have excellent hearing and sight and always keep their ears wide open for the slightest sound. If they spot danger, they will alert the colony by emitting a series of loud whistles.

When winter comes, the marmot and its entire family will huddle together in their burrow and hibernate for approximately 6 months. Their body temperature then drops dramatically: from 36 degrees to only 6 to 8 degrees! When they wake up they are bursting with vitality; they then engage in goodnatured wrestling and play fighting, which is an important social ritual. During the summer months, they store fat in order to survive the coming winter, doubling their weight.

Loves its greens

Social life

The marmot lives in family groups, made up of the dominant breeding pair and offspring from the last two litters, sometimes in larges colonies. The male is polyganous, breeding with 2 to 3 females. Their mating season occurs just after their hibernation comes to a close, in early April. After a gestation period that lasts 32 to 34 days, 1 to 6 babies are born. The baby marmots reach their full size at the age of 2, which is also when the leave their family to start their own.

Did you know that?

When hibernating, the marmot does not sleep for 6 months in a row. Every 3 weeks, they wake up for 6 to 12 hours to go to the bathroom.

The marmot lives in different burrows depending on the season. During the winter, they will occupy a deeper burrow that affords better protection against the cold.

Discover the European Big 5

The bison, the wolverine, the wolf, the lynx and the brown bear