Hoary Marmot - Marmota caligata
The hoary marmot has thick, silvery-gray fur on its head, shoulders, and half of its back. It has reddish-brown fur on the back half of its back, its rump, and on its long bushy tail. It has black feet, a white patch of fur between its small, round eyes, and white fur around its nose and mouth. It has small ears and long, curved claws on both its front and hind paws.
The hoary marmot is found in Alaska south to Washington, northern Oregon and parts of Montana and Idaho.
The hoary marmot is found on rocky mountain slopes and hillsides and in alpine meadows.
The hoary marmot eats a variety of grasses, green plants, and seeds. It often eats snow to get the water it needs. The hoary marmot puts on a layer of fat in the fall before it hibernates. In the southern parts of its range, it hibernates from October through February. In the northern part of its range, it hibernates from September through April. The marmot is very territorial and will chase other marmots from its feeding range.
Hoary marmots mate shortly after they come out of hibernation. They mate in their burrows. A month after mating, the female gives birth to two to four babies. The babies spend their first month in a burrow underground. They are fully weaned about two weeks after they come out of the burrow. The young marmots stay with their mother for their first two years.
When there is plenty of food, hoary marmots live in colonies made up of a dominant male, a few breeding females and their young, and a few subordinate males. Only the dominant male mates with the females in the colony.
If there is limited food, hoary marmots may live in groups of one adult male and female and their young. Hoary marmots often wrestle with each other for hours. They stand on their hind legs and put their front paws together and push at each other.