THE GOLDEN-MANTLED MARMOT is a rather common resident in Yellowstone National Park. On July 1, 1930, at Lake Lodge, we found these animals plentiful and exceedingly tame. In fact, the tameness of several of the old marmots was almost unbelievable. Four youngsters, which at that date were about the size of a large ground squirrel, were playing in the gravel and enjoying the warm rays of the morning sun. Some of the rodents had dug holes under the floor of the main building and two of the old ones had their burrows under the loading platform where they were always on hand to greet all arriving guests a self-appointed reception committee.
This group of marmots appeared to have lost all their native fear of man for they came out, stood up on their hind legs, and begged for food. On the day previous to our visit a little boy was walking along carrying a paper bag full of popcorn and one of the old marmots went up to him, seized the bag, and ran off with it, leaving the little fellow crying. Some of the old animals were so fat and lazy they could scarcely waddle about and reminded me of certain old fat bears in their nonchalant way of disregarding danger.
The young were much more alert and watchful for danger than their parents.
This species of marmot is about the size of, and bears a general resemblance to, the ordinary woodchuck of the eastern United States. The adult males have a total length of about 27 inches; tail, about 6-1/2 inches.
The color of these animals is ochraceous above, with a golden, buffy mantle extending across the back and shoulders, and distinctly reddish below. In Grand Teton National Park on July 7, 1931, many of these animals were observed at an elevation of 7,000 feet. These marmots were in their dark red coats.
Like other members of the woodchuck family, the golden-mantled marmot hibernates during the colder months. Two of these rodents were observed to be out of their winter den by April 12, 1932.
The natural enemies of these rodents are the coyote and golden eagle. Both of these animals capture a good many marmots, especially the younger, more inexperienced individuals. In spite of the toll taken by natural enemies, this species continues to maintain its numbers, since the rate of reproduction is sufficient to cover the loss.
Last Updated: 01-Jul-2010