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Marmot

MARMOT, the vernacular name of a large, thickly built, burrowing Alpine rodent mammal, allied to the squirrels, and typifying the genus Arclomys, of which there are numerous species ranging from the Alps through Asia north of (but including the inner ranges of) the Himalaya, and recurring in North America. All these may be included under the name marmot. In addition to their stout build and long thickly haired tails, marmots are characterized by the absence of cheek-pouches, and the rudimentary first front-toe, which is furnished with a flat nail, as well as by certain features of the skull and cheek-teeth. Europe possesses two species, the Alpine or true marmot (A. marmolta), and the more eastern bobac (A. bobac); and there are numerous kinds in Central Asia, one of which, thered marmot (X.coMifa/(i),isamuchlargeranimal, with a longer tail. Marmots inhabit open country, either among mountains, or, more to the north, in the plains; and associate in large colonies, forming burrows, each tenanted by a single family. During the daytime the hillock at the entrance to the burrow is frequently occupied by one or more members of the family, which at the approach of strangers sit up on their hind-legs in order to get a better view. If alarmed they utter a shrill loud whistle, and rush down the burrow, but reappear after a few minutes to see if the danger is past. In the winter when the ground is deep in snow, marmots retire to the depths of their burrows, where as many as ten or fifteen may occupy the same chamber. No store of food is accumulated, and the winter sleep is probably unbroken. From two to four is the usual number of young in a litter. In America marmots are known as " wood-chucks " The Alpine Marmot (Arclomys marmotta).

(q.v.), the commonest species being A. monax. The so-called prairie-dogs, which are smaller and more slender North American rodents with small cheek-pouches, form a separate genus, Cynomys; while the term pouched-marmots denotes the various species of souslik (q.v.), Spermophilus (or Citillus), which are common to both hemispheres, and distinguished by the presence of large cheek-pouches (see RODENTIA). (R.L.*)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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