Find the best places to hunt Marmots in Canada and discover the Marmots' Physical Description, Range, Habitat, Food Source, Breeding Habits, and Status. 

Provinces with Marmot Hunting

Province / Territory






Northwest Territories

Hoary Marmot

Season Available


Hoary Marmot


British Columbia

Hoary Marmot

Yellow-Bellied Marmot

Vancouver Island Marmot



Yellow-Bellied Marmot



Yellow-Bellied Marmot











New Brunswick



Nova Scotia



Prince Edward Island





Hoary Marmot - Marmota caligata 

 Range - Distribution and Habitat of the Hoary Marmot:

Hoary Marmot Range Map of Canada

 Hoary Marmot Range map of Canada

Original map of canada: By Nzeemin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Modified By:


There are currently three recognised subspecies of the Hoary Marmot:

Marmota caligata caligata is found in Alaska, the Yukon, NW Territories and northern British Columbia.

Marmota caligata cascandensis is a resident of the Cascade Mountains, from British Columbia to Washington State.

Marmota caligata okanagana makes its home in the Rocky Mountains from the Yukon to Montana and Idaho.

In Canada this species is a non migratory native to the region and is a year round resident in most of British Columbia, all of the Yukon Territory, the western edge of the Northwest Territory and the south western edge of Alberta. This mammal inhabits the mountainous terrain from sea levels on up to elevations of 8,200 ft. (2,500 m.). The elevation range of this species does vary with its latitude in that they are found at the higher elevations in the more southern sections of their range.

Its distribution is in the mountainous ecosystems but it has a liking for the treeless meadows that contain rocky outcrops or accumulations of broken rock debris. Here the species can forage on the grasses, sedges, herbs and forbs but the rocky areas provide them excellent cover and they can keep their burrow entrances well concealed within the boulders.

Description of Hoary Marmot:

Hoary Marmot

Hoary Marmot
Photo by - Florin Chelaru - Flickr

Both sexes of this species look similar but the male is slightly larger than the female member and this ground squirrel is best described as a sizable ground squirrel with short, heavy appendages, a broad head, small eyes, short rounded fury ears and a long slightly flatten tail.

Evolution gave this mammal well-developed claws that are slightly curved and in comparison to each other. The rear feet are larger than the front feet and have 5 toes in relation to the front’s 4. In order to improve ground traction there is no hair on the pads of their feet.

This marmot is mainly black and white and gets the term "hoary" from the silver-grey fur that is on their shoulders and upper back. The upper part of its head, feet and lower legs are black. It sports a white patch of fur on its nose and mouth, white fur on the chin, white around its lips and it sometimes has white patches on its front feet.

Long guard hairs make up the colour of this species but except for its underbelly it also has a dense, soft under fur for insulation. The Hoary marmot does moult once a year in the early to mid summer.

Including its tail, that is 6.7 to 9.8 in (17 to 25 cm.) long, an adult marmot of this species will range from 24 to 32 in. (62 to 82 cm.) in overall length and will weigh 17.6 to 22.0 lbs. (8 to 10 kg) although it should be noted at this point that the weight of this mammal will vary a lot over the period of one year. It is not uncommon for a full grown adult to emerge from hibernation with a weight of only 8.3 lbs. (3.75 kg) in May and then to shoot up to 15 lbs (7 kg) in September.

In terms of time this marmot spends about 80% of its life in its dug burrow: hibernating, rearing and raising young, sleeping, avoiding predation and poor or warm weather. When not spending time in its burrow it social life within its colony of up to 36 individuals may consist of play fighting, wrestling, social grooming, and nose-to-nose touching

The balance of their surface life will find them foraging for food and spending as much as 44% of that surface time sunning themselves on rocks.

Marmot colonies average14 hectares (35 acres) in size and generally consist of a dominant adult and up to three adult females. The balance of the colony will be young and sub adult individuals that are less than two years of age.

They don’t interact well with individuals from other colonies and these occurrences usually result in a hostile outcome with female members of the colony chasing away intruders.

This marmot is very vocal and has a repertoire of at least seven distinct types of calls that consists of chirps, whistles, growls, and whining sounds. A lot of these calls are alarms that are used to signal other animals of potential predators.

Each colony will construct a single hibernaculum burrow in which they all hibernate in. In addition to that, they will have about 9 sleeping burrows. To avoid predation they will construct refuge burrows of which a colony could easily have over a hundred of this type.

There is no data for the life expectancy of a wild Hoary Marmot but 12.1 years of age has been recorded for one in captivity.

Diet and Foraging Strategy of the Hoary Marmot:

Hoary marmots are active during the day, gets it nutrition from eating only plants and tend to be fond of company by feeding in groups of 5-8.

Plant material that it will consume consists of leaves, forbs, fescues, fleabanes, flowers, flower heads grasses, mosses, lichens, sedges and willows.  

Plant material is not chosen on a basis of availability or opportunity but rather preference is given to certain plants.

Breeding and Reproduction of the Hoary Marmot:

Late April to early May finds the Hoary Marmot coming out of hibernation and if mating activity did not occur in the Hibernaculum burrow it will now. The mating ritual of this species is for the male to approach the female from the rear and sniff her genitals in order to possibility tell if she is receptive. The male will then mount the female in a coupling that will last from 0.5 to 8 minutes in duration. It should be noted here that females normally produce a litter every second year and non receptive females will usually fight any attempts to be mounted by a male.

The dominant male will try to establish a harem of females within his colony but it is not uncommon for him to try and visit receptive females in other colonies.

Following conception, the female undergoes a gestation period that lasts 25 to 30 to days and will produce a litter of 2 to 5 (average is 3.3) young in the time period of late May to mid-June. The young are born underground in a natal burrow and are born blind and hairless except for its whiskers and some short hair on its head and face.

By the time they are three to four weeks of ages these young will have developed a full coat of fur and will be in the process of being weaned. They will also come about ground for their first time and although they are cautious about their new environment they do begin to display most of the non-reproductive behaviours of an adult.

By the end of July or the 1st week of August they will be weaned from their mother. Despite the size differences between adult males and females, size development of these juveniles will be the same during this stage of development and it is the female that has done most of the providing for the litter.

When September arrives they will go into hibernation with the adults and will not emerge until the following April.

Juvenile Hoary Marmots do not reach sexual maturity until they are in their second year and until that time occurs they will generally remain within the confines of their birth colony. They will leave the colony the following year when they are two years of age.

Female members of the species will then usually produce a litter of their own every other summer from the time that they are 3 years old.

Status of Hoary Marmot:

The Hoary Marmot was categorised in 2008 on the Red List as a mammal of Least Concern because is widespread, has a stable population in a suitable habitat and there are no major threats.

Land based predators like the Red Fox, Coyote, Wolf, Cougar, Lynx, Grizzly Bear, and Wolverine use this mammal a source of food while the Golden Eagle searches for it from the sky.

The hides of this mammal were once considered a prize, used for the making of clothing and a form of currency amongst the Tlingit and Gitksan tribes but that is no longer practised and today their furs have almost no commercial value in North America which results in almost no human-related deaths. 

Yellow-Bellied Marmot - Marmota Flaviventris

Range - Distribution and Habitat of the Yellow-Bellied Marmot

 Yellow-Bellied Marmot Range Map of Canada

 Marmot Yellow Bellied map of canada

Original map of canada: By Nzeemin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Modified By:


The Yellow-Bellied Marmot (Marmota flaviventris) may also be referred to as a rock chuck. Here in Canada, the Yellow-Bellied Marmot is a native year round resident that has a small representation that extends northward less than 750 km from the Canadian US border in the southern central portion of British Columbia, the south eastern border of Alberta and the south western portion of Saskatchewan.

In Canada, habitat for this non migratory marmot is generally found at low to mid elevations with a warm and dry climate. This gives it many opportunities to inhabit semi-desert, woodland clearings, forest openings, mountain canyons and alpine zones that are basically free of trees and shrubs. Members of this species that live further south of Canada may be found at elevations up to 6,500 ft (2,000 m.) but it is surmised that the Hoary Marmot inhibits the expansion of the species at these higher levels in both the sub alpine and alpine habitats.

These marmots may live alone or in pairs but the Yellow-Bellied Marmot generally lives in a colony of 8 to 24 individuals that typically includes one dominate male, one to four breeding females and three to twenty of their offspring. Although there is one influential male it is not uncommon for more than one adult male to be present within a colony.

Statistics are that 75% of the Yellow-Bellied Marmots reside in colonies while 16% occupy “satellite sites”, and 7% of them utilize temporary sites. A “satellite site” is a site that is comprised of only a few burrows and the reproductive rates with in these “satellite sites” is less than those of colonies.

With 80% of their lives spent in their burrow and with 60% of that time spent hibernating. Suitable habitat must support their partial adaptation to digging and living life underground in that they will create burrows under a rock, log or bush that is located on a slope, such as a hill, mountain, or cliff. Burrow entrances need to be well concealed in order to help evade predation and soil conditions need to be suitable for digging in and provide adequate drainage. Rock covered entrances to burrows also make it more difficult for predators to dig into should a burrow entrance be found.

This marmot digs their own burrow for the purpose of raising its young, hibernation, and to seek protection from potential predators. When constructing its burrow it will dig down into the ground about 2 feet. (0.6 m) and then construct a horizontal shaft about 12.5 to 14.5 ft (3.8 to 4.4 m) long. There are often many short tunnels from the main shaft and it may even connect this burrow to other burrows in the colony. Hibernation burrows are much deeper and will range 16 to 23 ft. (5 to 7 m.) in depth.

Description of Yellow-Bellied Marmot:

Yellow-Bellied Marmot

Yellow Bellied Marmot

Photo from -


The Yellow-Bellied Marmot is considered to be a small to medium-sized rodent and both sexes of this species look similar but the male is slightly larger than the female member. This ground squirrel is best described as having a robust body, a short and broad head, small round well-furred ears, they have a short white muzzle with a black nose and their feet possess five digits.

This species has an under layer of soft, dense, and woolly fur on the back and sides of its body. It also has yellow-brown to tawny coloured long and coarse outer guard hairs that have light tips with the darker coloured bases that cover its entire body. Specimens are seldom dark brown and never black in colour. The only exception is for melanistic individuals that are most common in areas of the southern Rocky Mountains. The sides of their body and neck are a buff yellow colour, its feet are a buff, hazel or dark brown colour and it has a reddish-brown tail. Noticeable white spots exist between the eyes and its fur is a yellow or orange-russet colour on its undersides.

Male members of the species tend to be longer in length than females and also tend to weigh significantly more than their female counterparts. Males will range in weight from 6.5 to 11.5 lbs. (2.95 to 5.22 kg.) and average 8.6 lbs. (3.9 kg.). While females will range in weight anywhere from 3.5 to 7.9 lbs. (1.59 to 3.57 kg.) and have an average weight of 6.2 lbs. (2.8 kg.). This marmot will range in length from 18.5 to 27.6 ins. (47 to 70 cm.) including its tail that will range in length from 5.1 to 8.7 ins. (13 to 22 cm.). Its hind-foot will be about 2.75 to 3.54 (7 to 9 cm.) in length. Those marmots whose habitat has a moderate supply of moisture and in mountains environments tend to be larger that those found in low lying and arid climates.

This marmot uses postures of alertness, vocalizations and chemical signals to communicate with. In addition they will use their cheek glands to post dominancy scent marks in their territory and help signal their social status.

This marmot uses whistles, undulating screams and tooth chatting as its forms of vocalizations. Six unique whistles have been identified and are used to alert and threaten other members of its species. Screams are usually in response to some form of excitement or fear, and a tooth chatter is used to threaten.

This species generally enters hibernation in September but when it emerges is dependant upon its climate. For example: in  high elevations and cooler climate conditions it may come out in May but in lower and warmer climates it may emerge as early as February or Mid-March.

The dental formula for this mammal is 1/1, 0/0, 2/1, 3/3 = 22.  and the life expectancy of  a wild Yellow-Bellied Marmot is 13 to 15 years.

Diet and Foraging Strategy of Yellow-Bellied Marmot:

This species is mostly active during daylight. In the spring and fall it is most active in the early afternoon while in the summer months its activity is at its highest in the morning and late afternoon. 

The Yellow-Bellied Marmot is considered an herbivore because they forage on plant material like grasses, flowers, leaves, berries, nuts, seeds, and Forbes. But they will also include insects and bird eggs in their diet.

This species does not store food and while in hibernation they need to depend on the fat reserves stored in their bodies. Individuals that go into hibernation with good fat reserves have the highest odds of making it until spring.

Breeding and Reproduction of Yellow-Bellied Marmot:

This marmot breeds once per year and that time period generally occurs in the two weeks after their emergence from winter hibernation.

Soon after the male marmot emerges from his hibernation he will dig a burrow. He then start to recruit females with which he can enter a "harem-polygynous" mating relationship where the male will breed with two or three mates at the same time. Successful males may have up to four females with him by the end of the summer.

Gestation period for the female lasts about 30 days following conception and her litter of 3 to 8 with an average of 4.32 altricial pups are born in the underground burrow. These newborns will average 4.3 ins. (11.1 cm) in length and weigh 1.2 oz.(33.8 g).

Mother marmots will nurse their young pups for 20 to 30 days after which time the youngsters will emerge from the natal burrow. The mother’s care will significantly decrease once the pups have emerged. However she will maintain a strong social bond for an extended period. This is especially true in colonial populations. It will take the juveniles about 7 weeks to be weaned at which time they will also be fully independent and there is only a 50% chance that these youngsters will survive long enough to become a yearling.

The time for dispersal comes when the juveniles have reached one year of age and all males along with slightly less than half of the females dispatch from their natal colony. The females tend to remain in the vicinity of their natal home while males range further in to find a territory where they can recruit their own harem.

Sexual maturity for female marmots occurs when they are about two years of age but only 25% of them will produce a litter. Males typically first breed at the age of three or older.

Status of Yellow-Bellied Marmot:

The Yellow-Bellied Marmot was categorised in 2008 on the Red List as a mammal of Least Concern because is widespread, and despite isolated populations due to unsuitable habitat. It has a stable population in a suitable habitat and there are no major threats.

When summer time mortality occurs 98% of the time it is due to predation. This factor of predation is not as great for individuals in a colony but is more of a factor for those living in “satellite sites” and temporary sites. This and the high mortality rates that occur while in hibernation limits the average life expectancy of this species.

The Yellow-Bellied Marmot has both land based and aerial predators in the way of coyotes, dogs, foxes, wolves, badgers, American martens, black bears, and golden eagles. The coyote is their most significant predator.

Diseases like the sylvatic plague or Rocky Mountain spotted fever may be found on this mammal from the fleas and ticks that reside on its body.  

Vancouver Island Marmot - Marmota vancouverensis

Range - Distribution and Habitat of the Vancouver Island Marmot

 Vancouver Island Maromot Range Map of Canada

 Vancouver Island Marmot Range Map of Canada

Original map of canada: By Nzeemin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Vancouver Island map from NASA

Modified By:


This marmot is Critically Endangered and is not to be hunted. You cannot make a mistake with this mammal. If you are on the island of Vancouver and you see a marmot. It is a Vancouver Island Marmot. DO NOT DISTURBE IT. In fact what you could do at this point would be to record its GPS location and report it to the Marmot Recovery Foundation. I am sure the fine people of this organization who are working hard to preserve this mammal would love to know of its’ existence.

Marmot Recovery Foundation - Linked
Box 2332, Stn A,
Nanaimo, BC
V9R 6X9

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Local: 1-250-390-0006
Toll Free: 1-877-4MARMOT       (1-877-462-7668)

Only 100 to 200 wild Vancouver Island Marmots live only in British Columbia Canada and more specifically. They only occur on the southern half of Vancouver Island where they occupy 27 higher mountainous elevations of 2953 to 4757 ft. (900 to 1450 m.). Their current populations are in five adjoining river drainages of the island and an isolated colony exists about 100 km away on Mount Washington.

Reasoning for this elevation range comes from their need to maintain a temperature of at least 5 °C. (41°F) in their hibernation chamber. Lower elevations typically are too warm and have too much large vegetation for this marmot but higher elevations generally don’t have deep enough soil structure in order get well below the frost line in the ground.

Their burrows are used to evade predation, rearing of young and hibernation. The dirt that this marmot requires for construction of these burrows must be loose and unconsolidated. You will likely find these burrows on steep treeless south and west facing slopes of mountain ridges. These slopes provide quick snow melting conditions in the spring. Entrances to the burrows may be found under a large boulder or at the base of a large tree trunk from which it can get good visibility of the country side for predators and be able relax and regulate their body temperature.

Some members of this species have been rarely found at lower elevations in developed areas but the general rule is that the increased amount of brush and trees makes this an unsuitable habitat as they are more open to predation and the types of forage that they like is not present.

Clear cutting of land close to the Vancouver Island marmot’s habitat has in the past promoted expansion and population growth of the species in that it gave this marmot a new found home to live in. This seemingly beneficial practise was found to be short lived because as the clear cuts grew their viewing platforms were destroyed and they became more susceptible to predation.

Description of Vancouver Island Marmot:

Vancouver Island Marmot

Vancouver Island Marmot
 Photo by: Wren8 - Flicker

The Vancouver Island marmot is a non migratory colonial based mammal that hibernates for about 210 days from early October to early May.

The small population and small colony sizes make it difficult for scientists to develop accurate statistics on this species. However, their colonies are generally small and seem to occupy patches of habitat in a complex set of underground burrows. The colony may be composed of about 8 individuals of which, there will one adult male, up to three family units, some sub adults, and some juveniles. This does not include the offspring that the family units may produce. It is not uncommon for a colony to disappear and then reappear at a later time. On the plus side, this marmot has demonstrated an ability to travel extensive distances during dispersal.

The physical description of the Vancouver Island marmot is as follows. Their body has a heavy build and they have short strong legs. Their paws have five toes that are equipped with robust claws that are adapted for burrowing. Their front and rear paws have two circular pads near the rear of their foot. Their front paw also has three pads near the front situated at the base of the digits while the hind paws have four. The head of this species is wide from side to side and short. Its ears are relatively short and are situated on both the back and the side of its head slightly behind its eyes. Their tails are and covered with lots of coarse, long guard hairs.

Like other marmots, other than the fact that males are considerably larger than females there are no apparent differences between the sexes. The weight of an adult will depend on its sex, age, and time of year. This weight may vary from 6.6 to 15.4 lbs (3 to 7 kg.) with most of their weight being attained in mid-September just prior to going into hibernation. The basic rule is that about one-third of a marmot’s body weight is lost during the 6½ months in which they are hibernating.

Adult marmots of this species generally have an overall length of 22 to 27.5 ins. (56 to 70 cm.) from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail.

Colouring for this mammal can be best described as having a rich, chocolate brown fur with contrasting white patches of white fur on their chest, chin, nose and forehead. Adult marmots also have white hairs scattered along its back with no apparent pattern. In contrast, this years youngsters are born with a black-brown fur coat than changes to a reddish brown colour later in the fall. This and their smaller size helps to differentiate them from adults.

Members of the marmot community signal each other with whistles that can be flat, trilled, and ascending or descending in tone [2]; however the Vancouver Island marmot has a unique "kee-aw" call not used by other marmots to signal other members of the colony of potential threats. The trill seems to be used in cases of high threats and flat calls are used more often for land based predators.

In addition to calls, adult male members will mark its territory with scent glands that are located in their cheeks.

August to September is the worst time of the year with most deaths occurring from predation. Also, yearlings suffer the highest mortality rate while in hibernation. With these factors in tow, a wild Vancouver Island Marmot has an average age of 3 years of age, but it does have a life expectancy of 10 years.

Diet and Foraging Strategy ofVancouver Island Marmot:

This species is mostly active in the mornings and evenings and spends its mid day time in its burrow, especially when temperatures rise above 20 °C (68 °F). 

The Vancouver Island marmot is considered an herbivore because they forage on the fresh buds, leaves, fruits, and flowers of plants. Plants targeted may consist of fiddleheads, Lupinus arcticus, western meadow-rue, Lathyrus nevadensis (herb), meadowrue, giant red Indian paintbrush, blue tinsel lily, cow parsnip, spreading phlox, woolly sunflower, oatgrass, woodrush,  and various species of herbaceous grass like plants.

It may start the spring off feeding on grasses and sedges and then switch to forbs and fruits as the summer progresses and they become more available. 

This species does not store food and while in hibernation they need to depend on the fat reserves stored in their bodies. Individuals that go into hibernation with good fat reserves have the highest odds of making it until spring.

Breeding and Reproduction ofVancouver Island Marmot:

For the Vancouver Island marmot males may become sexually mature at the age of 3 but are prevented from breeding by more dominant males until the age of 4. Some females may rarely breed at the age of 2 but they too seem to wait until they are 4 or 5 years of age before they will raise their first litter. The females will then breed every other year or at an even greater interval.

For this species mating occurs in their burrows from early May to June after they emerge from hibernation.

The act of copulation induces ovulation in the females and the gestation period is believed to about 32 days. Litters of 2 to 5 pups are born near the beginning of July and the average is about 3.3.

The female is the sole care giver to the pups and she will nurse them for about 30 days. During this time she will emerge alone from the natal burrow in order to forage for food. Her young will come above ground for their first time in late June to early July,

The pups will normally stay near the natal burrow the first year of their lives and hibernate in the same burrow that their mother does. The mortality rate for pups is low until they go into hibernation but most deaths of pups occur over the winter.

It is thought that the juveniles will disperse after they are two to threes years of age. It should also be noted that it is the male of the species that tends to disperse the farthest distances. This far ranging dispersal of the males is thought to be natures’ way of maintaining diversity in the species gene pool.

Also, the size of a litter and a females success in raising her young varies year to year depending on food availability, body condition of the female, and weather conditions. Previous experience in raising pups does not seem to have and effect on the survival rate of her offspring.

Also, females halfway through their breeding age tend to have higher rates of reproductive success than do younger or older individuals.

Status of Vancouver Island Marmot:

The Vancouver Island Marmot was listed as Endangered under both the United States Endangered Species Act (23Jan1984) and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) (01 May 2000). The Red list assessed this species to be critically endangered in 2013.

Justification for the critically endangered listing comes from the fact that 2004 estimates of wild Vancouver Island marmots fell to only 35 living individuals and that its population only occupied a small area thus making it one of the rarest mammals in the world.

Other than predation which mainly occurs in the late summer, between August and September, no obvious or major threats have been identified for this species. Predation accounts for 83% of Vancouver Island marmot deaths and they come naturally from Grey Wolves (38%), Cougars, (21%), and Golden Eagles (14%). That leaves a 10% margin for aerial predators like the Bald eagle, Red-tailed hawk, Northern goshawk, and Great horned Owl and land based predators like the Black Bear and American Martin.

There is some speculation that a decline in the black-tailed deer population has increased predation of the Vancouver Island marmot as wolves and cougars must turn to alternate sources of prey for their survival and this species is an alternate source of forage. But none the less the fact is that a small population of mammals is going to find it hard to survive when faced with increased hunting pressure.

The survival rate of adult members of this species has had some studies between 1992 and 2007 and conclusions were that the survival rate was 70.9%. The expectation is that an 80% survival rate is required in order to maintain this population of marmot. Thus a 9.1% short fall to indicate that up to the year 2007 the population was in a steady decline.

It is hard to imagine that an activity like logging could be cited as an issue for this species because the logging industry does not log on suitable sites for the Vancouver Island marmot. This issue comes into effect after clear cuts that adjacent or near marmot colonies have be made. These newly cut sites are very attractive to the marmot as a new home but in the long run it is a disastrous situation. For the marmot the soil is generally not suitable for hibernating in and even if it was the reforestation project will soon grow and ruin the site for the marmot.

Like other marmots this species is a host for parasites like mites, ticks, fleas, roundworms, and flatworms.

The outlook for this species is currently under review and for this editor, efforts that have positive results like those of the Marmot Recovery Foundation that was established in 1998 shows encouragement. Also, in the wings are breeding programs by the Toronto zoo, Calgary zoo, Mountain View Conservation and Breeding Centre in Langley, BC and the Tony Barrett Mt Washington Marmot Recovery Centre on Vancouver Island (2001) that breed captive marmots. The intension here is that the offspring will be used to establish new colonies and breed on their own.





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