Yellow-bellied Marmots are the western cousins of Groundhogs but unlike Groundhogs (Woodchucks) they aren’t fabled critters that can predict spring and I am okay with that because spring gets here when it gets here. I did learn why Yellow-bellied Marmots got the nickname “Whistle Pig” when I first came upon the two marmots in this area because one let out a sharp alarm whistle. This marmot crossed the dirt track to get to the other side where I thought it would disappear into the sagebrush and rocks.
Yellow-bellied Marmots are also called “Rock Chucks” though it is not because they can chuck rocks, it may be because they like rocky steppes, high meadows and talus slopes or it may come from the fact that they typically dig their burrows near and under rocks to avoid predators such as wolves, coyotes, foxes, dogs and sadly humans too.
The marmot didn’t disappear into the rocks like I thought it would instead it stopped and nibbled on some grass. I didn’t realize until I got back home and viewed this image on my monitor that I had caught the marmot with its mouth open showing its very long teeth.
I wish I didn’t have the light colored dirt track on the left side of these frames and that the marmot had continued moving a little further into the grass. I also wish the light had been falling on the front of the marmot instead of behind it but the clouds overhead did help with the exposure for these images.
I wanted to take a short break from the birds I photographed in Montana and present at least one of the mammals I saw there too and I like this Montana Yellow-bellied Marmot.