Alpine Marmot

The alpine marmot is a terrestrial squirrel belonging to the Marmota genus found in the mountains of Europe. It is one of the 14 species of giant ground squirrels that are large and heavy rodents. They are called alpine marmots because they are primarily found in the Alps Mountain in Europe. They live in burrows that they excavate themselves. They are often considered the largest squirrel species.

Scientific Classification

M. marmota

Table Of Content

Scientific Classification

M. marmota

Alpine Marmot


Length: 17 – 29 in (43 – 73 cm)

Weight: 4.2 – 17.6lb (1.9 – 8 kg)

Body and Coloration:  Alpine marmots have a mixture of blonde, reddish, and dark-grey fur. Their thumbs have nails, and their other fingers have claws.

Range and Distribution

These marmots are mainly found in North America and Eurasia. Their range is from the European Alps to the Kamchatka peninsula. They cover north-central Asia, the Himalayas, and north-eastern Siberia. 

Alpine Marmot Range
Alpine Marmot Habitat


These animals reside in mountain regions. Their preferred living areas are montane meadows, tundra, steppes, and forest edges. They construct their burrows and live in them. They are mostly found at an altitude of 800 to 3200 m. 


They are herbivores, and their diet mainly consists of leaves and blossoms, but they also eat grain, insects, spiders, and worms.


  • These species are diurnal. 
  • They live in burrows with a family that consists of a male, a female, and 10 to 20 offspring.
  • Alpine marmots are playful and friendly towards other individuals of their species. They are often seen participating in the nose-to-nose greetings with other alpine marmots. However, they are hostile towards other species if they intrude into their territory. 
  • The burrows they constructed are passed down from generation to generation. 
  • All the caves are connected to a large room called a den where all the family members hibernate in winter. 
  • Around October, they hibernate and close their burrows with hay and grass. They only wake up about once in 10 days or so. 
  • These marmots make a noise like the chirping of birds. However, when frightened, their scream is much louder, like a human scream.
Alpine Marmot Picture
Alpine Marmot Animal


The average lifespan of an alpine marmot is 15 years in the wild and 18 years in captivity.


  • Alpine marmots cannot tolerate extreme heat, so they do not come out of their burrows on sunny days. These species can consume a lot of food at one time and store them as a layer of fat tissue in their body. Hence, they can survive without food for days. 
  • Their forepaws help them hold young and tender plants and eat comfortably. 

Mating and Reproduction

Alpine marmots are monogamous. They mate with one partner for life. These marmots usually mate after hibernation.

Their gestation period is about 34 days, and their litters can number 1 – 7. The newborns don’t come out of their burrows until 40 days.

Alpine Marmot Image
Baby Alpine Marmot


Eagles and foxes are the predators of alpine marmots.

Conservation Status

Alpine marmots are termed “Least Concerned” or “LC” by IUCN. However, their population is under threat due to massive hunting. Around 6000 alpine marmots are killed annually in Switzerland and Austria.

Interesting Facts

  • Marmots can damage cars. If they spot a car, they can climb into the engine blocks and chew through the brake lines and radiator hoses in search of ethylene glycol, an alcohol in the antifreeze. 
  • These species have an aversion to herbs and spices consumed by humans. Hence, the pungent odors of pepper, rosemary, oregano, lavender, lemon balm, etc., can drive them away. 

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