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Hoary Marmot (Marmota caligata) Photographed in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA.

Hoary Marmot

(Marmota caligata)

What exactly does “Hoary” mean? Well it has nothing to do with exchanging sex for money. Basically it means old and grey. The Hoary Marmot received the name because of the silvery-gray fur on its back.

The Hoary Marmot is generally considered to be the largest member of the squirrel family (Sciuridae) in the world and it is found in high mountains ranging from Alaska all the way to Montana (where I photographed this little fellow).

Being hibernators, their weight varies drastically over the year. When they emerge from the ground around mid May they are at their lowest weight. Then they pack on as many pounds as possible in just 4 or 5 months. Then it’s back underground to sleep away the cold winter. A Hoary Marmot can lose nearly half its weight during hibernation! (From around 15 pounds in September to only about 8 pounds in May!) Can you imagine trying to make yourself fat by only eating grasses and flowering plants?

Photographed in Glacier National Park, Montana, USA. We saw a lot of other cool stuff on the same trail, check out my Mountain Goat photo gallery here!