Terrific Fun Photographing a Yellow-bellied Marmot Pup Climbing a Fence!

All While Laughing Out Loud!

/, Utah, Yellow-bellied Marmots/Terrific Fun Photographing a Yellow-bellied Marmot Pup Climbing a Fence!

Yellow-bellied Marmot pup sniffing a fenceYellow-bellied Marmot pup sniffing a fence – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

There are times I feel like I have almost too much fun photographing the birds and wildlife I see and yesterday was one of those days. Allow me to start off by saying that once again the radar/satellite was wrong, it showed clear skies to the north and what was actually real when I got up north was heavy cloud cover, they really can’t seem to get their crap together. So the light was not great and although I did find some birds to photograph once again the most fun I had was photographing Yellow-bellied Marmot pups at and near their burrow.

The interesting thing was that there are six, not five, marmot pups at that burrow, I was surprised when I saw all six outside the burrow on the rocks at the same time because marmots usually only have 3 to 5 pups.

The pups are moving further away from the burrow than they had when last I saw them and are getting more adventurous as they grow up I suspect. They are still very cautious however and scramble back to the burrow lickety-split when they see or sense danger.

One of the Yellow-bellied Marmot pups I photographed yesterday morning moved away from the burrow, crawled under a fence on the hill and stood on top of a rock just on the other side of the fence. What happened next I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. The marmot pup stood up on the rock and leaned on the fence with its paws and appeared to be sniffing the rusty wire the fence is made of.

Yellow-bellied Marmot pup looking up at the top of a fenceYellow-bellied Marmot pup looking up at the top of a fence – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Then the marmot pup looked up towards the top of the fence after moving one of its paws to a higher wire. At the time I thought it was simply scanning the sky. Boy, was I in for a surprise!

Yellow-bellied Marmot reaching up higher on the fenceYellow-bellied Marmot reaching up higher on the fence – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The Yellow-bellied Marmot pup stretched its body and grabbed the next higher wire on the fence while standing on the tips of its toes, reaching, reaching…

Yellow-bellied Marmot pup climbing a fenceYellow-bellied Marmot pup climbing a fence – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

And lifted its body from the ground with a look of intense concentration on its face with its hind feet dangling in the air! It looked to me like this Yellow-bellied Marmot pup was doing CrossFit, a move my son who is active in CrossFit tells me is called a “bar muscle up”.  By then I was laughing so hard that it was hard to maintain focus on the marmot pup while it was hanging there on the fence.

Yellow-bellied Marmot pup grasping a fenceYellow-bellied Marmot pup grasping a fence – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The light could have been better dear photography Gods! Seriously. Just a little brighter would have been marvelous.

I fired my shutter button in a very long burst hoping that I wouldn’t clip toes, tips of the tail or its cute little nose and while I did in a few images for most of the long burst I had the whole body of the marmot pup in the frames.

Right after this photo was taken the marmot pup seemed to let go of the fence and it tumbled to the ground, unfortunately the three photos I got of that action were a blurry mess.

Yellow-bellied Marmot pup attempting to climb the fence againYellow-bellied Marmot pup attempting to climb the fence again – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1600, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The Yellow-bellied Marmot pup was fine after it tumbled to the ground, in fact it went back to the top of the rock, put one paw on the fence and looked like it was going to try to climb up it again. That was until a noisy, annoying pickup truck rumbled up the road and got all six of the pups running to the safety of their burrow. When they came back out the pup didn’t go back to try climbing the fence again.

I have never, ever seen a Yellow-bellied Marmot, adult or pup, try to climb a fence before yesterday and I may never see this kind of behavior again. Friend Rick Wright told me that he has woodchucks that climb the chain link fence in his yard back East but hasn’t seen this kind of behavior anywhere else either.

You just never know what you might see when out photographing birds and wildlife but if you go out often enough and are prepared for the unexpected you might just get a big surprise. I sure did yesterday with this funny and adventurous little Yellow-bellied Marmot pup.

Life is good.



  1. Ken Schneider April 19, 2018 at 3:57 am

    Typical children at play! I guess there is not much else to climb in their habitat.

  2. suzanne Mcdougal April 15, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    Btw, it is the teeth that got me.

  3. suzanne Mcdougal April 15, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    My first picture of baby Marmot poop doesn’t quite compare with this epic Marmot maneuver. Check out Parkour. Maybe the pups will try that next. Such amazing shots.

  4. Elephants Child April 15, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    HUGE smiles.
    Thank you.

  5. April April 15, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    Wonderful series thank you for sharing the laughter with us

  6. Pepe Forte April 15, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Fun series of pics and terrific narrative. Thanks Mia.

  7. Marty K April 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    How. much. fun. Mia, thanks for sharing such a delightful series! Woo Hoo! 😀

  8. Jerry Ellison April 15, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Absolutely great shots Mia …great detail, even in the paws..probably a once in a lifetime sequence. Well done and thanks for sharing!

  9. Laila Q. April 15, 2018 at 9:27 am

    What a fabulous set of photographs! Thank you so much for sharing these with us! I’m so glad you were at the right place, at the right time!!

  10. Mary McAvoy April 15, 2018 at 8:23 am

    Fun post Mia! It’s the toes when the pup’s dangling that cracks me up!😂
    Thanks so much for a wonderful, uplifting post!

    • Suzanne Renfrow April 15, 2018 at 9:26 am

      When I saw those dangling toes, I laughed out loud. So cute! What a fun observation — what luck!

  11. Patty Chadwick April 15, 2018 at 7:26 am

    I’ll be darned!!! Had no clue they, or woodchucks, could climb anything! Had a woodchuck orphan for a while…but she was too fat to climb anything…Or was she???

    • Patty Chadwick April 15, 2018 at 7:28 am

      Marylou was a woodchuck, but she sure looked a lot like a marmot!!!

  12. Liz Cormack April 15, 2018 at 6:58 am

    Oh, my goodness, what a delightful series of photos. I would have been laughing too.

  13. Bob mcpherson April 15, 2018 at 6:54 am


  14. KathyGrahek April 15, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Joyful photos! Thanks for sharing this adventure!

  15. shoreacres April 15, 2018 at 6:27 am

    This is so wonderful — both for what it is, and for the memories it evoked. My parents had the same kind of fencing when I was a child — at least, for a while. Then, I learned to climb it, just like the marmot pup, and found I could escape. They were astonished, too.

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