Ever Heard of Marmots?

A closer look at Marmots, an animal which looks like squirrels but much larger
       We were practically familiar with squirrels, groundhogs and prairie dogs as we usually see their pictures on National Geographic, wildlife or outdoor magazines but we may feel strange about seeing a similar creature which may look bigger in size, a bit robust and a lot cuter, the marmots.

Marmots are large ground squirrels belonging to genus Marmota composed of 14 species. They usually flourish in mountainous areas like Alps, Carpathians, Eurasian steppes, Pyrenees in Europe and places like Sierra Nevada in the US, northern Canada and certain plateaus in Asia. They normally dig and live in burrows or rock piles and practice hibernation during winter. Marmots thrive on many types of grasses and greens, berries, lichens, roots and flowers. Their typical sound when alarmed is characterized by loud whistles in communicating with each other thus showing their social nature.

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Alpine Marmots are found only in the Alps along central and southern Europe and live at places with higher elevations as high as 800 to 3,200 meters. They are great diggers and could live 9 months of the year in hibernation. Reaching 4 to 8 kilograms when adult, Alpine Marmots are considered the largest species of squirrel.

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The Gray or Altai Marmot could be found in China particularly in Xinjiang province and could be seen through Kazakhstan down to Southeastern Siberia.

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Long –Tailed Marmots or Golden Marmots usually prefer temperate grasslands and are usually found in Afghanistan, China, India, Pakistan and neighboring places.

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Himalayan Marmot or Tibetan Snow Pigs can be seen in Himalayan regions at elevations of 300 to 4,500 meters. They could also be found in Pakistan and India and startlingly resembles in size with the average matured house cat. It is covered by dark choco brown coat and contrasting yellow patches of fur.

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Yellow Bellied Marmot could be sighted in western US and southwestern Canada like in Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada.

              Marmots had been seen since time immemorial and a claim by French ethnologist Michel Peissel tells of the story of “Gold-digging ants” as shown in the works of Greek historian Herodotus made in the 5th century BC had been actually connected with the Himalayan Marmots where habits of local tribes were to collect gold dust from its burrows.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marmot#Species

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-tailed_Marmot

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himalayan_Marmot

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_Marmot

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