Conservation status: IUCN – LC (Least concern)
Geographic range: Central Europe, Russia, central Asia.
Physical description: Marmot is characterized by a round torso, short legs, and a short tail. They are medium-sized rodents which are often compared to the North American prairie dog. Their bodies are between 50 cm and 60 cm long and they weigh about 5-7 kg, with the males usually being larger than the females. The marmots’ rusty-coloured coat is generally short and dense, with an outer layer of brown-tipped guard hair protecting them during the cold season. The darker, brown-tipped coat is more concentrated on top of their heads and between their eyes. The fur around their abdomens is generally a darker rust colour, whereas the tip of their tails is usually dark brown. Some colour variations are possible, including pale yellow coats and albino specimens.
Biology: Marmots usually live in families of approximately 15 individuals, consisting of 2 to 5 adults and 2 to 6 pups. They dig very deep burrows to form an underground tunnel system. They are most active during the morning and at dusk and generally spend 12 to 16 hours of the day in dens. They usually hibernate for about 6 months per year. One marmot in the colony typically serves as a sentinel, remaining alert and looking after the other members. Marmots can communicate vocally as can be seen when a sentinel will stand on its hind legs and emit an alarm call.
Lifespan: In the wild approximately 15 years.
Food habits: Principally feed on wild steppe grasses, roots, barks, grain, sometimes insects. Occasionally eat vegetables, sunflowers and agricultural crops. Intense feeding periods occur before winter in preparation for hibernation.