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Marmot

Marmot hanging out on the tundra

These little guys are busily fattening themselves up and stashing food for the coming winter. It has been unseasonably warm across much of Colorado in recent weeks but there are signs things are changing. A cold front moving through this weekend may deliver some snow to the residences of some of these high-altitude creatures.

Sometimes called a ‘rock chuck’, Yellow-bellied Marmots are actually members of the squirrel family. They are found above 6,500 feet in grassland, meadows and talus fields. Here in Colorado you are most likely to spot them above timberline sunning themselves on rocks.

A Yellow-bellied Marmot enjoys a quiet morning on the alpine tundra. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Yellow-bellied Marmot enjoys a quiet morning on the alpine tundra. (© Tony’s Takes)

Marmot relaxes on the tundra

At 14,000 feet early in the morning under overcast skies and drizzling rain it was a bit chilly to say the least. I wasn’t moving too fast or in any rush and neither were these small, high altitude denizens. Most seemed quite content to just sit on their rocks and relax.

If you like to sleep, you might wish you were a marmot. Yellow bellied marmots spend 80% of their lives in their burrows, 60% of which is spent sleeping. Taken in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

A Yellow-bellied Marmot relaxes on the alpine tundra near the top of Trail Ridge Road. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Yellow-bellied Marmot relaxes on the alpine tundra near the top of Trail Ridge Road. (© Tony’s Takes)

Marmot Monday brings a posing groundhog

My first pictures of one of these little guys this season. I had a great photo trip Saturday that took me to the top of the 14,130-foot-high Mount Evans. The wildlife was abundant and active, including this guy that almost seemed to be auditioning for a photo shoot. It gave me a number of great poses, including this one with a somewhat coy look on its face. Very cute!

Sometimes called a ‘rock chuck’, Yellow-bellied Marmots are actually members of the squirrel family. They are found above 6,500 feet in grassland, meadows and talus fields. Here in Colorado you are most likely to spot them above timberline sunning themselves on rocks.

A Yellow-bellied Marmot poses for pictures near the top of Mount Evans, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Yellow-bellied Marmot poses for pictures near the top of Mount Evans, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Shadow? What shadow? We’re still buried under the snow!

So Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning which means six more weeks of winter. His cousins here in the Rocky Mountains probably are less than thrilled to hear that given the copious amounts of snow that have fallen this season on their homes.

This Yellow-bellied Marmot was high on top Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park back in July. Needless to say conditions then were far different than what they are enduring up there on Groundhog Day today. Our marmots are indeed cousins to the groundhogs back in Pennsylvania although the environment in which they live is quite different.

A Yellow-bellied Marmot, cousin to groundhogs, poses for its picture. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Yellow-bellied Marmot, cousin to groundhogs, poses for its picture. (© Tony’s Takes)

Curious Marmot sneaks a peek

This little guy was doing his best to hide from me but just couldn’t resist popping up to see who was intruding on his domain. I was ready and snapped a couple of images before it retreated back to its burrow.

Taken back in August, the scene at 12,000 feet where this image was taken is undoubtedly much different now and these guys are prepared to weather the harsh, high altitude winter.

Sometimes called a ‘rock chuck’, Marmots are actually members of the squirrel family. They are found above 6,500 feet in grassland, meadows and talus fields. Here in Colorado you are most likely to spot them above timberline sunning themselves on rocks.

If you like to sleep, you might wish you were a marmot. Yellow bellied marmots spend 80% of their lives in their burrows, 60% of which is spent sleeping. Taken in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

A Yellow-bellied Marmot peeks its head out from shelter on a talus slope in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Yellow-bellied Marmot peeks its head out from shelter on a talus slope in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Lounging in the sun for Marmot Monday

Certainly many of us, including me, would much prefer to be lounging in the sun today rather than being back at work. This little guy had the right idea a couple of weeks ago near the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.

As the sun rose and temperatures similarly climbed, it felt the best course of action was to simply relax and take it all in. I can’t say I have ever seen a Marmot sit quite like this. It was pretty amusing for sure.

A Yellow-bellied Marmot sits back and relaxes in Rocky Mountain National Park.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Yellow-bellied Marmot sits back and relaxes in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Marmot hangs out on high

I came across this little one last month near the top of Mount Evans. The sun hadn’t been up for long and it was enjoying the warmth of a beautiful Colorado day with clear, blue skies.

Yellow-bellied Marmots prefer high altitudes and rocky slopes for their homes and can be found across many parts of the western United States and southern Canada. Much of their life is spent in their burrows.

A Yellow-bellied Marmot enjoys the blue skies and morning sun near the top of Mount Evans in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Yellow-bellied Marmot enjoys the blue skies and morning sun near the top of Mount Evans in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Marmot does not look pleased about Monday

Perhaps reflecting most humans’ mood on the first day of the workweek, this Yellow-bellied Marmot does not look too pleased to have its picture taken.

Two weekends ago I had gone to the top of 14,264-foot-high Mount Evans in the hope of getting pictures of Mountain Goat kids. Unfortunately they chose to hide from me that day but the Marmots were quite plentiful and more than willing to pose for pictures.

Sometimes called a ‘rock chuck’, Marmots are actually members of the squirrel family. They are found above 6,500 feet in grassland, meadows and talus fields. Here in Colorado you are most likely to spot them above timberline sunning themselves on rocks.

A Yellow-bellied Marmot looks a bit grouchy near the top of Mount Evans, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Yellow-bellied Marmot looks a bit grouchy near the top of Mount Evans, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Yellow-bellied Marmots wish for their own day too

So Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow today which in theory means spring will be coming early. I’m not sure of the weather forecasting ability of the groundhog but I wouldn’t mind if that were the case. I don’t have any pictures of groundhogs of the same species as Phil but I do regular see his high-altitude cousins. This pair of marmots was gathered on the talus slopes near the top of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park this past summer. I wonder if they aren’t a bit envious of all the attention their cousin gets? 😉

A pair of Yellow Bellied Marmots in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of Yellow Bellied Marmots in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Marmot gets its close up

Jumping backwards in time to July 3 for this image taken in a location you can’t get to this time of year due to the snow. High atop Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, these little guys are very entertaining as they scurry about the talus slopes.

I sat there watching this Yellow-bellied Marmot and its friends for quite a while when it decided it needed a closer look at the guy pointing the camera. Ever so cautiously it hopped over the rocks and approached me, coming to within a few feet. After giving me a good inspection with its eyes and nose, it decided I was no threat and went about its daily activities.

A Yellow-bellied Marmot inspects the photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Yellow-bellied Marmot inspects the photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)