Hoary Marmot - Mountain Whistler
The hoary marmot or whistler keeps a strict watch over its home territory in the high mountains of northwestern America and northeastern Siberia. Whenever a stranger enters its realm this big marmot sounds a danger signal--a shrill high pitched whistle that can be heard a mile away. The community of six or more usually has one individual serving as the lookout to give the piercing alarm whistle. Possible dangers include prowling bears, wolves, wolverines and other carnivores that can stop by at anytime. Eagles can also occasionally take away a young marmot. The marmots also have very good eyesight like many animals that live high up in the mountains. They live above where the trees grow at altitudes up to 8,200 ft (2,500 m).
For about nine months of the year, the marmot is in a deep sleep waiting out the winter and the other three months it has to work pretty diligently to pack on the weight. They weigh up to about 20 pounds. This chubbiness is what puts them in the running for heaviest rodent in the squirrel family with some competition from other mountain marmots. Their fur is reddish brown with white tips (this grizzly white appearance is where they get the "hoary" part of their names). There are long guard hairs and shorter hairs that provide more insulation. In the summer they will shed a layer of fur to show off their newly trimmed bodies in the summer sun. They enjoy sunbathing immensely. And when they are not sunbathing or eating flowers and grass, their other favorite hobby is socializing with the group.