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Alberta Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata)

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The Hoary Marmot is the largest of the marmots, adults weighing about 6 kg (13 lb). The fur of the upper parts is grizzled grey and brown, and the under parts are grey. Hoary marmots live in colonies where they receive mutual protection from predators. If one member of the colony detects danger it will give a long, shrill whistle which is passed along by other members of the colony. After the warning is given, the entire colony disappears into the protection of its rock habitat. The chief predators of this large rodent are golden eagles, and grizzly and black bears. Grizzly bears occasionally tear up a portion of a rock slide in search of marmots hiding in their burrows. Mating occurs soon after emergence from hibernation in May. Litters of 4 to 5 young are born in June, and the young marmots emerge from their burrows in late July. Hoary marmots enter hibernation in late August. Hoary marmots eat a variety of green vegetation in alpine meadows. They occur almost exclusively in the alpine life zone, only occasionally being found in the montane zone where talus slopes penetrate the forest. (Text information was provided by Alberta Government Resource Development.)

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