A large, ground-living member of the squirrel family. Alpine marmots live in social groups in burrow systems on many European mountain ranges.
4-5 years usually, but up to 14. Females usually live longer than males.
53-73cm long with a 13-16cm tail. Weight: 4-8kg.
Marmots are members of the squirrel family, with short tails, thick greyish fur and small ears.
French, Swiss and Italian Alps, South Germany, West Austria, Carpathian mountains, Tatra Mountains. They have been introduced to the Pyrenees, East Austria and Yugoslavia.
Mostly vegetarian; eating grass, flowers, bulbs and seeds, but will also eat insects, birds' eggs and occasionally each others' young.
Marmots live in social groups, usually a dominant pair and their offspring from previous years. Alpine marmot colonies can be as small as 2-3 or as large as 50 or more animals in one burrow system. During good weather they eat as much as possible, laying down enormous quantities of fat for the winter. They then have to hibernate for over half the year. Adult alpine marmots huddle up with the young to keep them warm through the winter which greatly enhances their chances of survival. The last animal into the burrow (usually an adult male) plugs the entrance with hay and earth to keep the warmth in and predators out.
Female marmots breed from their second or third year onwards, and usually cannot produce a litter (2-5 offspring) every year. A dominant female will hold a territory and burrow complex with a male, and their offspring from previous years live with them. Young males disperse after their first or second winter, as do many of the females, but other females stay on and one may eventually inherit her mother's breeding territory. Males generally only hold a territory for 2 years, so inbreeding is minimised.
This species is not listed by the IUCN red list.