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Hitchhiking Marmots?

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

"Check your car before you leave" are words to live by this hiking season. If you have spent a wonderful day out in the mountains, and are about to head home, it can save a marmots life if you take a few seconds to check your car. Unfortunately, there has been a trend of hitchhiking marmots who, curious about hiker vehicles (and attracted to the

minerals often found on cars), have crawled into the frame or engine, and travelled

back into the city. Once in the city the marmots are lost and far from their home environment.

As a result, we have seen an increase in marmots coming into our centre, as well as sightings in the city.

"Check your car before you leave"

- Check under your hood and vehicle frame

- Bang on the hood

You'll scare the marmots off and help them stay in the wild where they belong!

More about marmots

The high-pitched whistle of the hoary marmot may surprise you when hiking in the

mountains. Marmots are diurnal (active during the day) and like to perch on rocks

with high vantage points, acting as sentries to any incoming danger, such as eagles

or bears. Their piercing alarm call quickly alerts colony members to return to their


Alberta is home to two of these extra-large ground squirrels, the hoary marmot,

and the yellow-bellied marmot. Their names describe their distinguishing feature:

the hoary marmot has dark hair grizzled with silver tips, whereas the yellow-

bellied marmot has yellow or reddish fur.

Hoary marmots are the largest of the ground squirrels in North America, weighing

an average of ten to fifteen pounds, (the heaviest hoary marmot ever recorded

managed thirty!) Marmot weight fluctuates throughout the year with their eight-

month hibernation period where they can lose twenty percent of their body weight!

Hoary marmots live above the tree line in the Rocky Mountains. Their social

colonies usually consist of a large male and several breeding females and their

young. They socialize by play wrestling, grooming, and nose-to-nose touching.

Yellow-bellied marmots tend to live at lower elevations. Their colonies are

similarly structured with a single male, several breeding females, and their young.

Marmots survive best with their colonies.

Found injured or orphaned wildlife? Unsure if the animal is truly in need of help?

Please call Calgary Wildlife at 403-214-1312.

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