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Meet the Hoary Marmot

Handsome devil, isn’t he? This is a hoary marmot, seen in the boulders between Eagle and Symphony Lakes. They usually aren’t this cheeky, but this fellow had no problem posing for a group of us for quite some time. This coloring is typical of an Alaska marmot, although I actually saw a white(!) marmot in 2015, farther north.

The marmot is the largest member of the squirrel family (in North America, anyway) and a true hibernator that enters a state of torpor in the winter, as opposed to bears, who generally sleep the winter away. (Yes, there’s a difference.)

Once you’ve heard it, the marmot’s call — a shrieking sort of whistle — can never be mistaken for the relatively genteel “chip, chip!” of alarm from its tiny cousin, the ground squirrel.

Learn more about hoary marmots from ADF&G.