Marmots are known by various names such as groundhogs, rock chucks, and whistle pigs, pharaoh’s rats, plague carriers, and many other colorful four letter names.  They will weigh in between 5 and 11 pounds, live up to 15 years, and begin to reproduce at age 2. 


MarmotTaxonomically speaking, marmots are of the Class - Rodentia; the Family - Sciuridae (Latin for “Scurries away”)  Most prevalent in the western Untied States, likely to be seen in the Sierra Nevadas,  is the  Mamota Flaviventris (Latin for “marmots are flavored  like entrails”).  Commonly called the Yellow Bellied Marmot.


The habitat favored by marmots usually begins at about 6500 ft. in rocky mountain slopes and adjoining valleys, steppes, and meadows with a 6 acre foraging range.  The rocks and boulders of talus fields allow them to conceal their burrow systems from predators such as eagles, badgers, grizzly bears, weasels, martens, and mountain lions.  They often will create a “door” of fecal matter and grass for their burrow.  A marmot may spend 80% of its life in burrows without the benefit of video games. They will utilize summer and winter burrows; sometimes separate, sometimes the same burrow.  Marmots fatten themselves for winter hibernation thought they may rouse periodically.   Near winter’s end; they look outside for their shadow, says a word of thanks to Bill Murray and Harolod Ramis for the movie “Groundhog Day” and go back to bed.



The burrows will have dining rooms, living areas, bedrooms, and toilet facilities – much like the arrangements people have made.


A colony will consist of 10 to 20 members.  A male will have 1 to 4 females living in his burrow each with litters of 4 to 5.  Much like the arrangements people have made.


Marmots issue a variety of alarm calls, referred to as chucks, whistles, and trills.  They also make rude gestures to climbers and hikers who keep food out of their reach.


Marmots are generalists when it comes to eating:  seeds, grasses, fruit, eggs, grasshoppers, flowers, shrubs, leaves, trash, tents, boots, backpacks, radiator hoses, anti-freeze, car wiring, etc.


The Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park posts warnings about marmots disabling vehicles!  In the past, one might see chicken wire surrounding a car or truck.  Nowadays, back country enthusiasts will drive onto a huge plastic tarp and duct tape or bungee cord in to secure the base of the vehicle.



Marmots = Varmints



Vanilla Marmot Surprise

1 marmot

1/2 c. whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp.  black pepper

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 c. olive oil

2 tsp. honey

1 tsp. Vanilla





Clean and skin immediately. Remove all scent glands, head, feet,  and tail. Cure in cool place by suspending from hook approximately 4 days.


Dress marmot as for squirrel,  removing the small sacs in the back and under forearms. Soak overnight in salted water to remove weird flavor. Combine flour, salt, pepper and soda; rub into cut pieces. Brown in hot oil in skillet; drizzle with honey.  Reduce heat; add 1/2 cup water. Cover; simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. Remove cover; cook for 10 minutes longer.


Serve to guests. 


(This is intended as a joke only!)