Yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris) are large rodents common to the Rocky Mountains of the western United States and southern Canada. Marmot populations are large and stable, though sometimes they are victims of fragmentation. Marmots occur in many protected national parks and reserves, so they are not considered an at-risk species.

Typically found at or above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet) in elevation, marmots generally live in small colonies of a few individuals but can also live in pairs or alone. Marmots make use of one or several small burrows for hibernation and protection. Though they live in cold-weather climates, marmots do not store food for the winter.

As might be expected for an animal that lives in groups, marmots are highly social animals. Marmots use vocalizations to alert others in the colony to potential danger from threats such as predators.

Young marmots also often play with each other. The play-biting, boxing, chasing, and general roughhousing exhibited by one- to two-year-old marmots may help them to socialize and practice dominance behaviors used in adulthood.

  1. Why do marmots engage in play and how do they play with each other?

  2. Why are marmots not considered at risk?

  3. Where can yellow-bellied marmots be found?

burrow
Noun

small hole or tunnel used for shelter.

colony
Noun

group of one species of organism living close together.

dominance
Noun

authority or control.

Noun

height above or below sea level.

fragmentation
Noun

breaking up of large habitats into smaller, isolated chunks. Fragmentation is one of the main forms of habitat destruction.

hibernation
Noun

state of reduced physiological activity, similar to sleep, in which some animals spend the winter.

national park
Noun

geographic area protected by the national government of a country.

rodent
Noun

order of mammals often characterized by long teeth for gnawing and nibbling.

social animal
Noun

organism that interacts regularly with other members of its species.

vocalization
Noun

sound or noise made by the vocal chords of an organism.