Our Wild Neighbors

Yellow-Bellied Marmot

Marmota flaviventris

Likes to dig holes and lives in the dry zones of the Rocky Mountains and Canadian Prairies

Image of a yellow bellied marmot keeping watch.

Description of the animal

  • Large burrowing rodent (50 to 70 cm), closely related to the squirrel and prairie dog.
  • Brown fur, greyish tinge on its back and golden colour on its stomach.
  • Whitish spot between the eyes.
  • Short rounded ears, black nose and short, small muzzle.
  • Stocky body.
  • Short legs.
  • Male’s weight: 3 to 5 kg.
  • Female’s weight: 1.6 to 4 kg.

Habitat and needs

  • Lives in colonies of 10 to 20 marmots.
  • Communicates by producing different sounds and whistles to warn of danger.
  • Likes dry habitats: steppes, prairies, talus slopes, meadows, and other open or disturbed areas where the ground is easy to dig up.
  • Builds three types of burrows: house, exit tunnel, and hibernating area for autumn and winter.
  • Accumulates fat during spring and summer to prepare for hibernation from October to May.
  • Is polygamous. The male has a harem of up to four females.
  • Enjoys a mostly vegetarian diet. A marmot may at times eat insects and bird eggs.

Relationship

  • Its burrow weakens urban infrastructure.
  • The marmot eats garden vegetables and loves flowers.
  • Abandoned burrows can attract other species seeking shelter.
  • As a burrowing animal, the marmot contributes to soil ventilation.

Living with them

  • To prevent yard plants from being damaged by marmots, plant clover – its favourite – near its burrow.
  • If needed, install an electric fence around the garden.
  • To displace a marmot, insert rags soaked with ammonia, naphthalene, or simulated dog or fox urine in its burrow.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen