Hoary Marmot

a marmot laying on a rock wall
Hoary marmot basking in the sun on a man-made rock ledge near the Eielson Visitor Center in Denali National Park, AK.

Jen Wall

Nicknamed “whistle pigs” for their whistle-like alarm call, hoary marmots are large rodents, about the size of a house cat. If you’re from the eastern US, they are basically alpine versions of woodchucks or groundhogs. Hoary marmots are found throughout northwest North America, from Idaho to northern Alaska.

Hoary marmots live in rocky talus outcrops but are also found in alpine tundra where they forage for plants. Like arctic ground squirrels, they hibernate in burrows to survive the harsh arctic winters. In the summer, they use these burrows to sleep and to hide from predators. Hoary marmots are most active in the morning and afternoon. They are highly sociable and live in colonies consisting of a dominant male with a few females, 2 year-olds, yearlings and pups.

Hoary marmots are currently listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN. However, researchers are concerned that populations may start declining due to climate and land cover changes, such as declining snowpack which can decrease their burrow insulation while hibernating and cause them to freeze.

Current IUCN Listing: Least Concern

For more information, visit the Alaska Department of Fish and Game

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Last updated: July 1, 2020