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6 Types of Marmots in North America (Pictures)

Marmots are large ground squirrels known for their distinctive whistles and hibernation habits. There are many types of marmots all over the world, but the majority of them are native to North America and parts of America. In this article we’re going to take a look at the six amazing species of marmots that live in North America, and learn more some interesting facts about them!

6 Types of marmots

Probably the most commonly thought of marmot in North America and the U.S. is the groundhog, which is up first. In this list we’ll also show you 5 other species of ground squirrels found here.

1. Groundhog

Groundhog alone in grass field
Groundhog alone in grass field | image by Heckrodt Wetland Reserve via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific Name: Marmota monax

Groundhogs are a species of marmot that live in meadows, open fields, and streams across North America. They’re roughly the size of a large cat, with a body length of 15-20 inches and an average weight of 8 pounds. Their fur is typically brown to black, and they have strong legs and claws for burrowing in the ground.

These marmots are omnivores that eat plants, insects, and small animals like baby mice or birds. They prefer to forage for food in the early morning or late afternoon when it’s cooler, and there is less competition for food sources from other animals.

These animals hibernate in their burrows during the winter months. Groundhogs are also known as true hibernators because their temperature and heart rate drop during the winter and return to normal when spring arrives.

2. Alaska marmot

Alaska marmot on rock
Alaska marmot on rock | image by Eli Gross via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Scientific Name: Marmota broweri

Alaska marmots are large, stocky ground rodents with thick fur and small ears. This species is found in northern Alaska, from the Chukchi Sea coast to the Alaska-Yukon border.

This marmot prefers high mountain valleys, cliffs, and grasslands as its habitat. They have been observed living up to 3,900 feet above sea level.

During the summer, they’re active during the day and feed to gain fat for hibernation. In order to keep their dens warm during the winter, they fill the openings with a mixture of dirt, vegetation, and excrement.

Alaska marmots mate in April or May and give birth to two to six young after a month. These animals primarily consume grasses, flowering plants, and berries that are found in their habitat.

3. Vancouver Island marmot

Vancouver island marmot
Vancouver island marmot | image by Alina Fisher via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 4.0

Scientific Name: Marmota vancouverensis

The Vancouver Island marmot is a type of marmot that can only be found on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. It’s the only marmot species that lives solely on an island, and it’s also the rarest of all marmot species. These creatures are 65 to 70 centimeters long and weigh up to 4.8 kg.

This marmot is restricted to the 25 mountains of Vancouver Island. They prefer meadows between 900 and 1500 meters above sea level. These creatures also hibernate in groups with their family members from late September to early May.

Vancouver Island marmots primarily feed on grasses, herbs, and wildflowers on the island, and the Vancouver island marmot is known to consume over 40 different species of them.

4. Yellow-bellied marmot

Yellow-bellied Marmot standing
Yellow-bellied Marmot standing | image by Greg Schechter via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Marmota flaviventris

The yellow-bellied marmot is another North American rodent species in the marmot family. They’re widespread in Canada and the western United States. Their natural habitats are alpine meadows, grasslands, and open woodlands at high altitudes.

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They’re most active during the day, looking for food. Yellow-bellied marmots are mostly omnivores, eating grasses, fruits, insects, grains, legumes, and eggs.

Unlike other marmot species, Yellow-bellied marmots are polygynous, with two to three partners during the mating season. These usually take place during the months of May and June. After a 32-day gestation period, yellow-bellied marmots give birth to three or four offspring.

5. Hoary marmot

Hoary Marmot sits on rock
Hoary Marmot sits on rock | image by Colin Bowdery via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Marmota caligata

The hoary marmot is the largest member of the marmot family in North America. They can weigh up to 30 pounds and measure more than 30 inches in length. You can find these animals in southern Washington, most of which can be found in Alaska and the Yukon.

Some of these species can also be found near British Columbia’s coast. Hoary marmots prefer to live in alpine regions with elevations of 8,200 feet or higher.

They’re also known as “the whistlers” because they make high-pitched whistles when alarmed or excited. Hoary marmots are solitary animals that spend the majority of the winter hibernating. These animals mate in burrows, which are usually found beneath boulders or on rocky slopes.

6.  Olympic marmot

Olympic marmot on hill
Olympic marmot on hill | image by Scott Costello via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Marmota olympus

The Olympic marmot is a lovely creature that has adapted to its surroundings in the Olympic Mountains. They’re only found in the state of Washington and are common in Olympic National Park.

It has small eyes, ears, and a thick fur coat to keep warm in the mountain air. It feeds primarily on flowering plants native to the mountains, such as glacier lilies and lupine. However, they’ll eat roots and trees during the summer months to use the stored fats during hibernation, which lasts eight months.

The Olympic marmot is a highly social creature that lives in family groups. These animals are also known to greet one another by touching noses.