Meet the marmot
One of the highlights of any tour is spotting the local inhabitants at play in their natural environment. I love stopping to watch their behaviours and am always in awe of how nature adapts to survive in these harsh environments.
Let me introduce you to one of my favourite alpine friends.
Marmot (German: Murmeltier)
Up to 18 years
30-60cm in length (not including their tail)
Vegetarian- mainly various types of grasses, lichen, alpine flowers
In summer you’ll find them hanging out in open alpine meadow above the tree line. In winter they retreat into their burrows and go into hibernation for nearly six months
Most likely to be found:
Whistling to one another when there is a threat (e.g. golden eagle flying overhead), scrapping with one another, having a conference.
During the summer months a marmot will chomp around 1-1.5kg of grasses/ herbs/ lichen etc. a day, building up their layers of fat for winter. During the winter months when they sleep in their burrows their bodies switch into low power mode – from around 40°C to 5°C and their heart rate goes down from 110 to below 10 beats a minute. All meaning that during their long winter sleep they actually only use up energy equivalent to 12 normal days of activity! Despite this a marmot will lose 50% of its body weight during their hibernation- hence the need to pile on the fat before.
Lebenswelt Alpen- sehen/ kennen/verstehen by Franziska Wüthrich, SAC Verlag 2010