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Animal phare de nos alpages, la marmotte est un petit mammifère de la famille des rongeurs.
It’s quite simple, the marmot is the second largest rodent in France after the beaver. Its body is fairly long and is covered with very dense fur, particularly in winter when it keeps it warm. It is particularly easy to spot thanks to its piercing whistle which can sometimes be heard up to 1km away. Its cry signals imminent danger and by this means the marmot warns the other individuals in its colony. Indeed, the marmot is a very sociable rodent, living in colonies of 5 to 12 individuals. Its burrow consists of underground chambers and galleries with several exits. It is sited close to dense pasture with a clear view to ensure the greatest safety.
No need to worry, marmots are quite timid and should not come near you as they can sense danger from a very long way away!
This little animal can be seen from April to September, following a long period of hibernation. When they hibernate, it is known as social hibernation as they come together in family groups always with an older, and thus more experienced, individual. They huddle together in a ball and the entrance to their burrow is closed with leaves, grass and small stones. Before this long period of hibernation, the marmot eats a great deal , almost doubling its body weight so it can sleep peacefully throughout the winter.
To watch them, it is best to set out exploring early in the morning. Needless to say, you will find them in the Parc de la Vanoise and The Chapieux Valley. In full summer, you may be lucky enough to see a mother with her young as the breeding season is in full swing at that time.
Don’t forget to take a pair of binoculars and to keep your ears open.
And above all, respect the animals’ peace and quiet and do not feed them, you risk upsetting the balance of their life cycle.