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Hoary marmot

Marmota caligata cascandensis


Hoary Marmots is the largest member of the squirrel family. Adults range from 62 to 82 cm (24 to 32 in) in total length, including a 17 to 25 cm (6.7 to 9.8 in) tail. They are starting to put on weight now - by fall adults will weigh around 22 lbs. and exceptional ones as much as 30 lbs. I was lucky enough to capture these guys play fighting, which is one of their favorite past times. Notice their large teeth and claws. Pic 3 shows another one close by foraging and collecting grass to take back to the den for storage.


Spotted at Mount Rainier National Park in the Alta Vista area above Paradise. At or near 7000 ft. in a very rocky ravine with some snow pack still left. Pic 5 shows them going into one of their den entrances under the snow. Pic 6 shows one of their other den entrances. The marmots hibernate seven to eight months a year in burrows they excavate in the soil, often among or under boulders. Each colony typically maintain a single hibernaculum and a number of smaller burrows, used for sleeping and refuge from predators. The refuge burrows are the simplest and most numerous type, consisting of a single bolt hole 1 to 2 metres (3 ft 3 in to 6 ft 7 in) deep.


The three currently recognized subspecies are: Marmota caligata caligata – Alaska, Yukon, NW Territories, northern British Columbia Marmota caligata cascandensis – Cascade Mountains, from British Columbia to Washington Marmota caligata okanagana – Rocky Mountains, from Yukon to Montana and Idaho

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Brian38 3 years ago

Thank you so much Daniele I'm truly honored and thank you Zlatan for your kind words.

Zlatan Celebic
Zlatan Celebic 3 years ago

Wow. Great one! and congrats.

DanielePralong 3 years ago

I love marmots! This spotting was a very strong contender is our Spotting of the Week selection. Congratulations Brian, it is now our Spotting of the Day! Great series.

"Our Spotting of the Day shows impressive claws and teeth on this pair of wrestling Hoary Marmots (Marmota caligata cascandensis), but they're just play fighting. Play fighting is a common form of social behavior in a wide range of mammals, birds, and some other taxa. A favorite pastime of juvenile marmots, play fighting may help individuals practice for establishing later dominance relationships. Hoary marmots are the largest North American ground squirrel; the word "hoary" means grayish-white, and refers to the silver-gray fur on their shoulders and upper back. This well-documented spotting also shows a marmot collecting grass as well as the entrance to their den: check it out!"



Brian38 3 years ago

Thank you so much Neil for you kind words. I had a lot of fun watching and taking pictures of those two play fighting and wrestling. They were really putting on a show.

Neil Ross
Neil Ross 3 years ago

I really like this spotting, and it makes me smile. Congrats on your nomination for SOTW, Brian.

Brian38 3 years ago

Thank you Ashley for the nomination.

AshleyT 3 years ago

Your spotting has been nominated for the Spotting of the Week. The winner will be chosen by the Project Noah Rangers based on a combination of factors including: uniqueness of the shot, status of the organism (for example, rare or endangered), quality of the information provided in the habitat and description sections. There is a subjective element, of course; the spotting with the highest number of Ranger votes is chosen. Congratulations on being nominated!

Brian38 3 years ago

Thank you Mark.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 3 years ago

Great series.

Spotted by

Ashford, Washington, United States

Spotted on Aug 12, 2018
Submitted on Aug 14, 2018

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