The Olympic marmot (Marmota olympus ) is a rodent in the squirrel family, Sciuridae; it occurs only in the U.S. state of Washington, on the middle elevations of the Olympic Peninsula. The closest relatives of this species are the hoary marmot and the Vancouver Island marmot. In 2009, it was declared the official endemic mammal of Washington.Show More
This marmot is about the size of a domestic cat, typically weighing about 8 kg (18 lb) in summer. The species shows the greatest sexual dimorphism found in marmots, with adult males weighing on average 23% more than females. It can be identified by a wide head, small eyes and ears, stubby legs, and a long, bushy tail. Its sharp, rounded claws aid in digging burrows. The coat color changes with the season and with age, but an adult marmot's coat is brown all over with small whiter areas for most of the year.
The species has a diet consisting mainly of a variety of meadow flora, including dry grasses, which it also uses as bedding in burrows. It is preyed on by various terrestrial mammals and avian raptors, but its main predator today is the coyote, however the complex system of communication through whistling means most marmots remain safe for their entire life. The Olympic marmot is rated a species of the least concern on the IUCN Red List. It is protected by law in the Olympic National Park, which contains most of its habitat.
The burrows of this marmot are made in colonies, which are found in various mountain locations and differ in size. A colony may contain as few as one marmot family or multiple families with up to 40 marmots. Olympic marmots are very sociable animals which often engage in play fighting and vocalize four different whistles to communicate. During hibernation beginning in September, they are in a deep sleep and do not eat, causing them to lose half their body mass. Adults emerge in May and their young in June. Female marmots reach sexual maturity at three years of age, and produce litters of 1–6 every other mating season.Show Less
Diurnal animals are active during the daytime, with a period of sleeping or other inactivity at night. The timing of activity by an animal depends ...
A herbivore is an animal anatomically and physiologically adapted to eating plant material, for example, foliage, for the main component of its die...
In zoology, a folivore is a herbivore that specializes in eating leaves. Mature leaves contain a high proportion of hard-to-digest cellulose, less ...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct ...
A fossorial animal is one adapted to digging which lives primarily but not solely, underground. Some examples are badgers, naked mole-rats, clams, ...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
Colonial animals live in large aggregations composed of two or more conspecific individuals in close association with or connected to, one another....
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Hibernation is a state of minimal activity and metabolic depression undergone by some animal species. Hibernation is a seasonal heterothermy charac...
U.U.S. States Animals
Olympic marmots are about the size of a domestic cat. They have a wide head with small eyes and ears; a stocky body with stubby legs and sharp, rounded claws adapted for digging. Their tails are long and bushy. The coat is double-layered and consists of soft thick underfur, for warmth, and coarser outer hairs. The fur color changes with the season and with age, but an adult marmot's coat is brown all over with small whiter areas for most of the year. Their muzzle is almost always white, with a white band in front of the eyes.
Olympic marmots are native to the Olympic Mountains in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, USA. Most of their total habitat is located in Olympic National Park, where they are often sighted, especially on Hurricane Ridge. Within the park, Olympic marmots inhabit lush sub-alpine and alpine meadows, fields, and montane scree slopes. These animals are well-adapted to their generally cold natural habitat, where there is snowfall almost every month of the year on the mountain slopes and barren grasslands.
Olympic marmots are gregarious burrowing animals. They live in colonies containing multiple burrows. These burrows are used for hibernation, protection from bad weather and predators, and raising offspring. A typical colony consists of a male, 2-3 females, and their young; young marmots stay with their family for within 2 years. The activity of these animals varies with the weather, time of day, and time of year; during summer months because of rains and fogs, marmots spend most of the day in burrows and forage mostly in the morning and evening. In between these times, they lay on rocks warming under the sun, grooming each other, playing, chirping, and feeding together. Olympic marmots start to enter hibernation in early September. Before hibernating, they bring dry grasses into the burrow for bedding or food. Adults emerge after hibernation in May, and the young in June. When communicating vocally, Olympic marmots have 4 different types of whistles which include flat calls, ascending calls, descending calls, and trills.
Olympic marmots are polygynous which means that males mate with more than one female during a breeding season. These marmots come out from hibernation at the beginning of May, and breeding occurs about two weeks later. Females give birth to 1-6 young in a grass-lined burrow underground after the gestation period that lasts around 4 weeks. Newborn pups cannot see, have no fur, and are pink in color. After a month pups first leave the burrow; around the same time, they begin to be weaned. Even after they are allowed to emerge, the young stay close to the burrow, where they chase each other and fight playfully. Within a few weeks after first emerging from the burrow, the young are fully weaned and can feed themselves. Olympic marmots are not completely independent from their mothers until they reach two years of age. Both males and females become mature at 3 years, but females generally don't breed until they are 4,5 years old.
The main threat to Olympic marmots is human activity and recreation. These animals have a limited geographic range and are protected by law in the Olympic National Park, which contains most of its habitat. Olympic marmots are also preyed on by various terrestrial mammals and avian raptors, but their main predator today is the coyote.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of Olympic marmots is 2,000-4,000 individuals. This species’ numbers are decreasing, however, it is currently classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.