Marmot - The "Sentinel of the Alps"
Marmots are large ground squirrels in the genus Marmota. Marmots are small animals. They could grow up to 45-60 cm, length and 3-6 kg.
Maturity of the Marmots comes after the third year of their live and then they form new families. The mating period is from April to May, while small (2 to 5) are born in late June.
Usually mostly you can find them in the meadows and mountain pastures between 1 500 m and 2 500 m. Somebody say also 3 000 m but if it is dry and rocky there it is impossible to find Marmots so high in the mountain. However Marmots needs some months to eat and rise they weight to accumulate enough fat that is necessary to survive the winter.
Marmots eat grass that can easily find nearby their burrows.
Marmots usually lives in burrows underground that are reach like a labyrinths with many exits. They lives in a group between 3 and 10/15 Marmots.
The days goes in search of food and sunshine, playing with other marmots, but they remain always close to its burrows, which includes the evening.
Marmot also spends a lot of time grooming.
Usually marmots do not dig a single hole (burrow) but a system of rooms, that are interconnected through a dense network of tunnels.
There is a "main room" that you can find even a few meters deep underground and it is almost always stuffed with grass.
There are also secondary rooms and even the most superficial lateral branching function room for a "bath".
The burrow is also surrounded by numerous galleries to escape that are at about two meters long, dead-end and which is often open at the base of a large stone.
Each burrow is occupied by a single family nucleus - the parents with their newborn children and children born in the two previous seasons.
The burrow with only one escape is typically used for hibernation in the winter during which time the opening is closed with earth mixed with grass and stones.
The Marmots are shy animals. When they feel the coming danger they start whistling so all colony can immediately hear them. And not all marmots but also other animals like Alpine Ibex, Chamois, Deers. So why the Marmots were called "The Sentinel of the Alps".
There are different kind of whistles between Marmots and in depends from the danger that comes - eagle or human being. More close the danger is more rapid is the whistle.
Surviving winter is very hard for Marmots. So why they are social animals and pass the winter all close together. It is very important especially for the newborn Marmots to survive that don't have enough time to rise their weight. In the family without one or both parents surviving is almost impossible.
Beginning in 2010 Alaska celebrates February 2 as "Marmot Day", a holiday intended to observe the prevalence of marmots in that state and take the place of Groundhog Day.
Where to find Marmots?
We can find at about 15 species of Marmots that lives in Europe, North America and Asia.
In Europe you can find them in the Alps, northern Apennines, Eurasian steppes, Carpathians, Tatras, and Pyrenees.
Marmots are presented in all the territory of the Alps in Italy. They are more quite and more easy to close in the areas of the National Parks as Gran Paradiso, Stelvio. Maybe you success also to give them food from your hand.
Reintroducing and introducing the Marmots in new territory of Europe?
In Carpathians since 1948 the Marmots are reintroducing very successfully. Later it was done the same also in Pyrenees where she was completely disappeared.
Well, why not to introduce Marmots also in Bulgaria? There is the typical Alpine relief and conditions for surviving?
I would like to continue here a day and to tell you: "Yes, it was done!"
Advices for visiting Parks and Places where you can find Marmots
- Don't bring with you dogs or other animals that can disturb the animals of the Park and not only!
- Don't make noise there!
- Do not cry when you encounter these animals!
- Move smoothly rather than abruptly!
- It is useless you try to make pictures of them very close up, you only will scare them!
- Do not scare any animals in the Mountains!
Advices: How to make pictures of Marmots?
You can easily see Marmots and make pictures of them in the Alps in the Italian territory. But always remember that Marmots are shy animals and it is very hard to go close to them.
They have highly developed auditory and visual system (300 degree) and when they feel coming danger they anxiety began to warn the other marmots. The natural, almost immediate reaction is very fast to hide in their burrows.
But all the same it is possible to go close to them. My experience showed me that it is possible to go rather close to marmots from one side they are. Seems it is on the side where the wind come, strange but you can try. I am sure you easy understand which one side is better to go close to them.
Remember to move yourself very, very slowly and without noise!
Although even you go 2 m close to them, the Marmots are enough shy and they can observe you from their burrows but not to go out of it. In this case move yourself some meters far from there.
What we should not do in the mountain?
Not in all places in the Alps you will be lucky to see and make pictures of Marmots, they usually run away even you are very far from them. The reason is that people are very annoying to them and often cry a lot, run after Marmots , bring dogs there, try to go very, very close to Marmots.
A few years ago in the Lac du Mont Cenis in France I even saw a French man (his car was french) that shoot with a gun marmots. Of course I was not able to do anything against him. But then, later I noticed that there are less Marmots in this area.
Do we really wish to destroy the Fauna in our Planet?
Do not we wish to Save the Earth, to Save the Flora & Fauna of our Planet?
Photo Gallery of Marmotta
I had possibility many times to observe the behaviors of the Marmots in some places in the nearby Alps, where I am living now:
- in Gran Paradiso National Park, Piedmont, Italy,
- in Cervino, Cervinia, Valle d'Aosta, Italy,
- in France - Lac du Mont Cenis, La Vanoise.
Take a look at My Photo Gallery. As soon I have something different to show you I will add it here.
Marmotta - The Photographer in My Eyes
All the Rights for the pictures are Reserved and you cannot use any of them without permission of Mimi & www.mimipet.com !