Hoary Marmot

Hoary Marmot.

Name

  • Common name: Hoary Marmot
  • Scientific name: Marmota caligata
  • Order: Rodentia
  • Family: Sciuridae
  • Indigenous names for this species may be available through the Yukon Native Language Centre

Viewing opportunities

  • Head for a hike to the alpine to look for marmots. Listen for their call to narrow down your search. It's a loud, long, steady whistle.
  • Marmots are not too shy of humans, so you can sit and watch them feed or sun bathe for quite a while.
  • Marmots enjoy the warmth of sun, so you’ll increase your chances of seeing one if you’re hiking on a sunny day.
  • Roads that cross alpine regions, such as the Top of the World, Dempster, and Haines highways provide a reasonable chance for a sighting.
  • The best access to excellent marmot viewing is on Keno Hill.
  • Keep your dog on a leash when hiking through marmot habitat! Marmots are not shy and not fast and can easily fall victim to dogs.
  • Research in Tombstone Territorial Park demonstrated that at distances less than 150 m alpine hikers caused significant changes in the behaviour of Hoary Marmots, with them feeding less and hiding in their burrows more. Hikers are advised to keep at least 150 m away from marmots when possible.

Description

  • Appears to be a large, bulky ground squirrel.
  • Grizzled grey fur with black or brown splotches.
  • Medium sized fluffy tail.

Fast facts

  • Length: 0.5 m
  • Weight: 5 kg
  • Lifespan: 8 to 12 years
  • Predators: Golden Eagle, foxes, Wolverine, bears, wolves, Coyotes
  • Habitat: Alpine

Conservation status

What is conservation status?

  • Yukon: S4 (Apparently Secure)
  • Global: G5 (Secure)

Behaviour

Hoary Marmots are only active for 4 months of the year and hibernate from September to April. They are social animals, living in small family groups known as colonies as large as 11 members. Summer life consists of mostly feeding, raising young, basking in the sun, watching for predators and playing.

Diet

Most grasses and sedges, as well as leaves and flowers.

Distribution

Hoary Marmot distribution map.

Sights and sounds

Marmot den.
Marmot den.

Marmot scat.
Marmot scat: small, dried pellets.

Marmots and people

  • Marmots were only occasionally hunted by First Nations of the Yukon and Alaska.
  • Today Hoary Marmots are protected from hunting in the Yukon, except by First Nations people.