Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 09/10/2014

Photo taken on August 28, 2014

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Today, 10 September 2014, I am doing what Marmots like to do - stay in their burrow. The late summer SNOWSTORM continues today and is doing tremendous damage to all the trees in the city. Yesterday, they said that 5,000 trees in the city had been damaged, and today is far, far worse. I have a short length of hedge that grows against a fence. Yesterday, the hedge was overgrown by about three feet above the top of the fence. When I peered through my blinds when I got up, my hedge had almost disappeared, bent down so that it's now about three feet lower than the fence. I so hope it stays like that once the snow has melted, but most likely not! I suspect there are going to be quite a few people without power today, like yesterday.

The little guy/gal in this photo was the cutest thing. It's a young Yellow-bellied Marmot that was peering out of a hole by some metal pipes. Friends, Cathy and Terry, and I, had been watching these animals for some time, through the car windows. Eventually, we got out and took a slow walk down the road and back. Almost back at the car, I noticed that this youngster was still half way out and when I approached a little way, very slowly, he was quite curious and stayed right where he was. Young Marmots are born in May and we saw this one on 28 August 2014. The Yellow-bellied Marmot is classified as Secure in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report.

"Yellow-bellied marmots usually weigh from 1.6 to 5.2 kilograms (3.5 to 11.5 lb) when fully grown, though males typically weigh more than females. Adult males typically weigh between 3 to 5 kilograms (6.6 to 11.0 lb); females typically weigh between 1.6 to 4 kilograms (3.5 to 8.8 lb). They get fatter in the autumn just before hibernating.

Their territory is about 4 to 7 acres (2 to 3 ha) around a number of summer burrows. Marmots choose to dig burrows under rocks because predators are less likely to see their burrow. Predators include wolves, foxes, coyotes, dogs and eagles.

Yellow-bellied marmots spend about 80% of their life in their burrow, 60% of which is spent hibernating. They often spend mid-day and night in a burrow as well. These burrows are usually constructed on a slope, such as a hill, mountain, or cliff. The hibernation burrows can be up to 5 to 7 metres (16 to 23 ft) deep, but the burrows constructed for daily use are usually only 1 metre (3.3 ft) deep. Their hibernation period varies on elevation, but it is typically from September to May.

Yellow-bellied marmots are diurnal. The marmot is also an omnivore, eating grass, grains, leaves, flowers, legumes, fruit, grasshoppers, and bird eggs." From Wikipedia.

During three days away (26, 27 and 28 August 2014) with these friends, we saw so many things, including breathtaking scenery, 4 Black Bears (including one that was swimming in the lake), Bison, Deer (including several that we saw in the town of Waterton, where we stayed for two nights at the clean and friendly Bear Mountain Motel), Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, Chipmunks, various bird species including the endangered Burrowing Owls (way east of Waterton, on our last day), a few wildflowers, several Yellow-bellied Marmots (a first for me!), a few different insect species, and a family of Dusky Grouse that are uncommon in the park. I even got the chance to see three or four new-to-me old, wooden grain elevators. Oh, and we got caught in a storm like nothing we'd ever seen before - a mesocyclone, apparently.

Ken Dies
Ken Dies
Just a lovely photo, Anne.
4 years ago.