Meet Ollie!

Ollie is a Marmot. Marmots are known for their burrowing to make their home, Ollie is a resident of Mammoth Lakes since before it was Mammoth Lakes. Let Ollie burrow for you to find you the best home for you.

Here is a little information about Ollie

Name: Ollie Marmot
Age: Ageless
Favorite food: Burritos
Favorite Pastime: Sustaining on Mammoth's Rocks

Marmot Lore 101: Class Notes
...the lighter side of marmots
Dr. Daniel T. Blumstein
University of California Los Angeles

Woodchucks are groundhogs and vice versa. They are one of the 14 currently recognized species of marmots, large ground squirrels found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Marmots look pretty similar...HOTLINK to a variety of downloadable photographs illustrating marmot's physical similarity.

Marmots are rodents, closely related to both ground squirrels and prairie dogs. Scientists call these species sciurid (sci-your-ed) rodents. Marmots, of course, are the KINGS of the sciurid rodents.

Woodchucks don't "chuck" wood (whatever that means!). According to David Barash, a professor at the University of Washington, woodchucks may have gotten their name by early an colonial corruption of the Cree Indian name "otcheck". Interestingly, "otcheck" probably didn't refer to woodchucks, but to a forest-dwelling weasel.

At least 3 woodchucks are reputed to predict the weather. In the Northern US, the responsibility falls upon Punxsutawney Phil. Down South, Beauregard Lee gets the honors. On the Bruce Peninsula of Lake Huron the albino Wiarton Willie tries his luck. At least one of them tends to get it right. Sing the Groundhog Day Song--Oh Murmeltier! Groundhog day is the only US holiday named after an animal. Turkey day DOES NOT COUNT.

All 14 species of marmots are true hibernators. During the winter their body temperature drops to a few degrees Celsius. They don't keep their body temperature down all winter, rather, they wake up (people who study this call it "arousal") every week or so for a bit and then go back into "deep torpor" (deep hibernation).

Woodchucks live pretty stoic and solitary existences. Males live alone and females live alone. Males tend to mate with neighboring females, and their offspring tend to leave home before their first hibernation. All other species of marmots are much more social. In some species, adults live together in large (5-10+) groups.

While woodchucks tend to be pretty silent, their cousins tend to be quite vocal and emit loud alarm whistles or chirps at the slightest provocation. Thus a common name of North America's yellow-bellied marmot is the "whistle pig".

Some species Eurasian marmots vary the rate at which they whistle as a function of terrain. Prof. Alexander Nikolskii's long-term studies have shown that marmots call faster when they live in areas with more vertical relief and broken sight lines. Marmots on the steppes tend to call more slowly.

Marmots tend to have a highly developed sense of place. Many species of marmots live in stunning alpine settings.

People who like woodchucks and other marmots are called "marmotophiles". In Switzerland, monuments are created to marmots. Many countries honor marmots on postage stamps. Comic book stories have been written about some lucky marmots.

People who study woodchucks and other marmots are called "marmoteers" or "marmotologists". There is a big international meeting of marmotologists every three of years. The first was in Italy, the second in France, and the third in Russia. The next meeting will be in Austria in 2000.


Professor Kenneth B. Armitage, Department of Systematics and Ecology, University of Kansas

Barash, D.P. 1989. Marmots. Stanford University Press, Stanford.

Bibikov, D.I. In Press 1997. Marmots of the world. New Brehm Book, Germany.

Nowak, R.M. and Paradiso, J.L. 1983. Walker's mammals of the world, 4th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.

Rue, L.L., III. 1981. Complete guide to game animals. Outdoor Life Books/Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York.

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