• 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?

      Marmots engage in play behaviors such as boxing, chasing, and play-biting to practice behaviors needed for adulthood and survival.

    2. Why are marmots not considered at risk?

      Yellow-bellied marmots are widespread and common and occur in many protected areas, so they are not considered at risk.

    3. Where can yellow-bellied marmots be found?

      Yellow-bellied marmots can be found in the Rocky Mountains of the western United States and southern Canada, at elevations above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet).

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    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.

    elevation Noun

    height above or below sea level.

    Encyclopedic Entry: elevation
    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.