Yellow-bellied Marmot

Yellow-bellied Marmot

Marmota flaviventris is a member of the Squirrel family, Sciuridae. First described by John James Audubon and John Bachman in 1841.

Marmot Species - Visitor Center Exhibit


Three species of Marmot have been recorded in Montana: yellow-bellied, hoary and woodchuck. If you look at the photo to the left you can discern the physical and coloration differences. Yellow-bellied is the smallest, tawny in color and has a long tail (yellow belly cannot be seen in this photo). Hoary is large and silvery; woodchuck is uniformly darker brown and large.  


Woodchuck has only been found once (1895) in Montana at Idaho/Montana stateline, has not been found in Montana since (Foresman 2012). Hoary marmot are in alpine/high elevation areas of the western quarter of the state. Yellow-bellied occupy lower elevation sites over 3/4 of the state, eastern quarter of state not occupied.   

Habitat: Yellow-bellied Marmot at White Barn

Yellow-bellied marmot are fond of rocky outcroppings and talus slopes, ergo the nickname "rock chuck". Den sites are located near abundant source of plants (grasses and forbs). These marmots can be found on the Refuge in three general locations: the residence cold storage building, the White Barn, and the boundary with Whitetail Golf Course. All these spots are in the closed portion of the Refuge, though good viewing can be had from Wildfowl Lane looking at the south side of the White Barn. 


Yellow-bellied is active mornings and afternoons with "sunning" in between. Animals are active from early March through September. Hibernation occurs outside this period; fully 60% of their life is spent doing this. The family unit, a "harem", consists of a male with several females. One liter a year of 3-8 young are produced by a female irregularly (not every year).