Marmots are mammals. All marmots have one common ancestor.
A significant part of scientists in Eurasia identifies eight species of marmots. Different species of these animals have behavioral traits peculiar only to them, which is associated with different geographic habitats. However, all marmots have such a common feature as hibernation.
Marmots are herbivores. In the course of their life, marmots dig holes. Almost all individuals live in colonies. Marmots are endowed with warm fur.
Researchers distinguish between mountain marmots (which live in the rather harsh conditions of the alpine mountains) and lowland marmots (also called bobaks).
The largest representative of marmots is the steppe marmot. The number of marmots has significantly decreased compared to the eighteenth century, which is associated with both the hunting of these animals and the economic development of the territories where they lived.
Marmots build several types of burrows - temporary, which are necessary for shelter from danger, and permanent (or nesting). The latter have a very complex structure and can be used by more than one generation of animals.
Marmots live in large colonies in a certain area, the size of which can reach two and a half hectares. The life of a marmot can be divided into two periods - the period of activity and hibernation.
The life expectancy of marmots in their natural habitat is approximately eight years. These animals reach sexual maturity by three years. Marmots are game animals (their fat and light fur are valued).
America is the ancestral home of marmots. An interesting fact is that when many representatives of different species in ancient times migrated from Asia to America, the opposite picture was observed in marmots - they moved from America to different geographic zones. Despite the difference in behavioral characteristics in marmots living in different natural conditions, all individuals have a similar physiology of processes (in particular, the presence of hibernation), as well as external similarity.
Plain marmots are distant relatives of the squirrel. According to taxonomy, this is indeed the case. The body length of bobaks can reach sixty centimeters, and taking into account the tail, even seventy-five centimeters. The weight of marmots sometimes reaches ten and a half kilograms. Baibaks are endowed with an awkward fat body and strong, but short, legs. Plain marmots have a flattened large head set on a short neck. The auricles are barely visible. The front paws of bobaks have large claws. The latter are necessary for marmots when digging holes. Since these animals often have to move on heterogeneous or uneven terrain, the keratinized epidermis is well developed to avoid injury on the soles of their paws. Plain marmots in natural conditions move in only two ways. This is a step and a gallop. Moreover, they can reach speeds of up to fifteen kilometers per hour.
The coat of marmots has a uniform color. As for the steppe marmots, this is practically the case. The prevailing sandy yellow color scheme is slightly varied by grains of black ripples on the back. Ripple elements thicken on the top of the head and at the back of the head. The sides and cheeks of the marmot are light. The paws and lower part of the body of the animal are buffy-yellowish in color. Lowland bobaks have black or brown streaks under the eyes. The lips of marmots are bordered with white wool. After the end of hibernation, marmots come out of their shelters with lighter and coarser coat. Molting in bobaks is celebrated once a year. The molting period is quite long - the beginning falls on the first half of May, and the end - in the second half of August. In this case, the fur on the back is replaced first. After the molt, it affects the sides, head, and belly. The tail and legs shed last.
Marmots are widespread. This judgment was applicable until the end of the eighteenth century. At that time, these animals inhabited the entire territory of the forest-steppe and steppe zones of the European part of the former USSR. Marmots were often found on the territory from Podolia to the left bank of the Irtysh. Human economic activity has seriously undermined the number of marmots. Due to the intensive hunting of marmots, as well as the plowing of land, the habitats of these animals were divided into separate areas, rather isolated from each other - the largest areas were in the Samara, Ulyanovsk and Saratov Volga regions. The largest number of marmots was observed on the territory of the Volga Upland, as well as in the reserves "Streletskaya Steppe", which is located in the Luhansk region and "Stone Step", which is located on the territory of the Voronezh region. The number of marmots was also high in some areas of the Rostov, Lugansk and Kharkov regions. Currently, the number of these animals has significantly decreased, complete extermination was avoided thanks to the protection of marmots by the state and the prohibition of hunting them. Nowadays, lowland marmots live only in separate colonies. In the European part, these animals are found in places such as Ukraine, south of Ulyanovsk, north-west of Saratov and south of Voronezh regions. The virgin steppes of Northern Kazakhstan and the Trans-Urals are the places where the steppe marmot is most common. Sometimes the marmot can be found in the foothills and mountains of the Eastern Tien Shan and Altai. The number of steppe marmots on the territory of Russia has a steady tendency to an increase in the population - according to data for 2007, the number of lowland marmots inhabiting the territory of the Russian Federation was 352.1 thousand individuals.
Marmots form colonies. These animals, indeed, live in large colonies for a rather long period of time, as a rule, in the territories of feather grass, black earth and hilly steppes, and in the case of their plowing as a result of human economic activity, marmots move to the nearest virgin land. Another option for a new place of residence for these animals is the borders of pastures, unplowed slopes of gullies, and the sides of village roads. The prerequisites that new habitats must have are the following: firstly, the availability of a food base, and secondly, the prevention of the presence of areas with a high level of groundwater in the inhabited territory. The size of the site where the marmot colony lives is in direct proportion to the availability and size of the food supply. The size of such a site can reach two and a half hectares, and marmots mark the territory with the help of secretions of the postorbital glands and excrement.
Baibaks dig several types of holes. Burrows of lowland marmots are divided into permanent and temporary, the depth of which can reach four to five meters. Permanent burrows can be classified into summer burrows and winter burrows. Permanent burrows are very complicated. In view of this, representatives of several generations can use the same burrow. The number of holes leading into a permanent groundhog burrow typically ranges from twelve to fifteen. Away from permanent burrows, these animals build shallow temporary or protective burrows that are designed to shelter animals in times of danger, although sometimes marmots simply spend the night in them. Temporary burrows are especially useful if the danger overtook the marmots far from the permanent (or nesting) burrow. The entrance to a permanent burrow is usually wiped with animal hair and is slightly widened. Thus, one can even draw an analogy with a funnel. Such expansion is necessary for the animals to inspect the nearby surroundings when they come to the surface. The passage to the burrow itself reaches thirty centimeters wide and about twenty centimeters high. The main tunnel of the burrow slopes downward (about two meters), after which it turns either to the left or to the right; in addition, several small passages are separated from it, ending in a dead end. Animals use them as a toilet. There is a sleeping chamber (the so-called pocket) at a depth of about two to three meters. This is a widened depression approximately 50 X 100 centimeters in size, into which the lowland marmots drag roots and dry grass. Those burrows that have a particularly complex structure often have several such chambers at once. They differ from each other in different sizes. Groundhog burrows can form several floors. There is a mound in front of the inlet. It is formed from discarded subsoil, which is lighter in color than the surrounding soil. This mound is also called marmot, the height of which reaches from forty to one hundred centimeters. In diameter, the size of the marmot varies from three to ten meters.
The life of a groundhog can be divided into two periods. These are periods of activity and hibernation, from which marmots emerge in early spring. By the end of summer, lowland marmots become very fat, and in late summer - early autumn they hibernate, which they spend in whole groups in a nesting chamber. At the same time, before going into hibernation, marmots clog all exits with dense plugs, thus, the temperature in the hole, even in severe frosts, exceeds zero degrees. During hibernation, all life processes in these animals slow down. The body temperature of marmots decreases to a level of 4.6-7.6 ° С. The breathing of these animals is reduced to two or three breaths per minute. The number of heartbeats is reduced to three to fifteen. During hibernation, lowland marmots are in a state of numbness, which is maintained due to the accumulated fat deposits in summer. Baibaks lie, practically not moving, and do not eat anything. During hibernation, the bobak loses about a third of its weight. Awakening after hibernation lasts for only a few hours, after which the animal begins to feed intensively. After hibernation, the marmot begins restoration work in those places where the required burrow structure is broken. Marmots are active during the daytime.
During feeding, some marmots are on patrol. This happens in turn. When the slightest danger arises, the marmot, which is "on duty", emits a loud whistle. After that, he hides in the nearest burrow, and all other individuals follow his example, having previously warned those around him. Baibaks sit in the hole for some time, and then, with great caution, appear on the surface.
Daytime sleep is typical for marmots. At noon, they rest and sleep in burrows dug underground, and when the sun begins to set below the horizon, these animals reappear on the surface. They eat and rest near their burrows (on marmots). In spring, lowland marmots are more active in the second half of the day.
The marmot often freezes in a posture. Firstly, this posture is typical for marmots, when they are on watch while feeding. Secondly, the marmot often freezes in this form when making intermittent dashes. When a marmot runs away from danger, it can do it at a fairly high speed. At the same time, it often falls with its belly near the ground and on the way to its burrow often changes the direction of movement.
The bobaks reach sexual maturity by the age of three. There are times when marmots were ready to mate two years after birth. The beginning of the mating season in these animals falls on the moment of their awakening after hibernation. Pregnancy in female marmots lasts approximately thirty to thirty-five days, after which three to six naked and blind (they see their sight at about the twenty-third day of life) cubs are born, the body length of which varies from nine to eleven centimeters. Their weight is only thirty to forty grams. Thus, the weight of the young is equal to 1% of the weight of its mother. Cubs receive milk from their mother for fifty days, during this period the male moves to another burrow. In principle, already on the fortieth day of life, marmots are quite capable of independently feeding on grass, and young marmots do not mind frolic on the surface already a month after birth. Approximately two to three days after the young start to come to the surface, the instincts of "watchmen" awaken in him - this means that the cubs also begin to assume the posture of the post. When a danger arises, marmots, like adults, begin to whistle and twitch their tail. Cubs are with their parents until next summer. After that, a more independent life of these animals begins, connected, among other things, with digging holes - however, for the second winter, marmots again spend with their parents. It is worth noting the fact that within the bobaki population are extremely peaceful animals. Marmots can only get involved in a fight with other animals if they are in danger.
The life expectancy of marmots in their natural habitat is approximately eight years. This is true. However, quite a few young marmots die from the paws of predators. In addition, foxes, dogs, wolves, birds of prey, as well as humans are the enemies of these animals.
Marmots are "pluckers". They can be attributed to this category based on the nature of the consumption of green forage. Baibaks do it in the following way. They selectively nibble plants over a large area. Due to such selectivity, the vegetation cover is not disturbed. Marmots are more inclined to eat juicy and young plants - and in summer, when the sun is especially hot, marmots often go far from their burrows in search of succulent grass. The need of bobaks for water is fully satisfied by the moisture that is available in plants (therefore bobaks are quite sensitive to a decrease in moisture in them), as well as morning dew. Marmots chew food relatively poorly, and during the day they can eat up to one kilogram of green mass. These are mainly herbs and plant roots. By the way, small pieces of plants are often found in the stomach of bobaks. If succulent plants are not available, for example, as a result of a steppe fire that has occurred, then bobaks go into hibernation long before the deadlines set by nature.
The marmot often becomes a human pet. The large size of the marmot attracts a person and often makes him have this animal in his apartment. However, do not forget that this is a very important step and before you take it, you need to think over all the little things about the marmot's stay in the apartment. In addition to the need to comply with all the conditions for feeding, walking and keeping the animal in general, an important aspect is the need for marmot hibernation. The latter requires a lot of effort and time from a person, since it is still difficult to organize this process correctly. With unsatisfactory maintenance of marmots, bobaks can not only get injured themselves, but also cause considerable harm to human health. Or they may not even come out of hibernation.
The cage in which the marmot is kept must have strong metal rods. This is due to the fact that, for example, plastic rods will be gnawed at lightning speed by a marmot. In addition, bobaks must not be kept in glass aquariums, boxes, wicker baskets, plywood boxes, etc. The most suitable size of the cage in which the marmot will live should be as follows. The cage should not be less than 65 centimeters long, 55 centimeters wide, and 65 centimeters high. The dimensions of the door are recommended such as 41x43 cm. The door must be equipped with either a lock or a strong lock.Otherwise, bobaki with the help of his dexterous paws will easily open it. In order for the marmot to go to the toilet in the established place, it is necessary to install either a special tray or a pallet in the cage. For bobaks, a physiological need for shelter is inherent, therefore, its cage, if possible, should contain a soft lounger, rags, etc. In addition, in no case should the cage be placed in direct sunlight, or placed next to a heater or battery, just like under an air conditioner. If the apartment is not well insulated and there are drafts on the floor, then the cage is best placed on a small elevation. The marmot must always have access to water, so a dispenser (drinker) must be installed on the cage wall. As for the bowl of food, it can be placed in the cage with the groundhog only for the feeding period (by the way, this must be done at least twice a day). It is impossible to overfeed the bobak, since in nature marmots eat very often during the day.
Marmots are vegetarians. In natural habitats for bobaks, they feed only on plant food - these are parts of plants (shoots, leaves, flowers), as well as succulent grass mixtures. If the bobak is kept in an apartment, his diet may include a variety of crispbreads (unleavened), various fruits (pears, apples, bananas, persimmons, etc. except exotic) and vegetables (bell peppers, fresh cucumbers, beets, carrots). Marmots can be given dill, parsley, lettuce, etc. Just do not forget that all of the above products must be rinsed under running water and monitored for their quality. A significant part of bobaks are fastidious animals. It follows from this that it is desirable to make the diet for the groundhog as varied as possible. In the spring and summer months, marmots can also be fed with plants plucked with their own hands; they must also be washed before use. The only thing you should pay attention to is the fact that there are no poisonous plants among the plucked plants. Under no circumstances should baibaks be given any products of animal origin (i.e. meat, poultry, fish and seafood).
Marmots are very curious animals. Baibaks, while walking around the apartment, try to get into wherever possible - into closets, corners, cracks, etc.; but even without such walks, marmots cannot be left either. They are very important for the physical and social development of the groundhog; the frequency of such walks should be at least twice a day, and the duration should be at least one hour a day. However, bobaks not only like to climb on objects of the environment, but also to try them on their own teeth, so when the bobak determines the places he likes most in the apartment, then there should be sketched those things that are no longer a pity. This is necessary so that the animal can satisfy its physiological need to tear something or nibble. Baibaki do not mind crawling on the beds, while burrowing into the blankets on them. At the same time, marmots simply satisfy another natural need - to dig holes and shelters. Controlling every step of the animal during a home walk is a must. Otherwise, it can end very tragically. And since the marmot can start gnawing anything, then before the outlined walk you need to close all the sockets, remove any wires and wiring. The activity of the animal becomes noticeably less as it approaches hibernation. The animal begins to gain weight intensively and spends more time sleeping.
The groundhog cannot be washed. It's just that a person is unlikely to emerge victorious from this procedure. Marmots are so afraid of water that when swimming they begin to bite, scream and struggle to escape. It is not necessary to bathe the baibak at all, because this animal cleans itself. If dirt accumulates on its fur, the marmot bites it out. The only thing a person should do when keeping a bobak is to wipe it, if necessary, with wet wipes and brush it out.
A person must create all the conditions for hibernation of a marmot. The best place that is not heated, and also protected from rain and wind, is a balcony (perhaps a loggia), where you should install a house for your pet. As the latter, a regular box made of lining with a lid is very suitable. The minimum dimensions are as follows: height and width - fifty centimeters, length - seventy-five centimeters. In addition, the marmot's winter shelter should have a lock or strong lock and be filled with wood shavings or hay. The temperature in the marmot's houses during its hibernation period should not exceed three to four degrees Celsius (and be maintained at this very level). In addition to preparing the hibernation house itself, the animal itself must be prepared. In natural habitat, marmots, due to some factors, feel the approach of hibernation. These are such factors as the weight gained to the required norm, a decrease in the food supply, a decrease in air temperature. In view of this, a person should make sure that the marmot, in the new habitat conditions created for him, also realizes the need to go into hibernation soon. To do this, it is necessary about two to three weeks before it (this period can be determined by the behavior of the animal - the marmot becomes lethargic, its physical activity decreases and its appetite disappears) to stop feeding and watering the animal. In addition, the cage with it should be covered with material (so that the marmot understands that the daylight hours are significantly reduced) and in this form it should be taken out into fresh air for about two hours. If, when starting a marmot, a person does not intend to put him into hibernation, then it is better not to start a bobak at all. Otherwise, the animal, not satisfying its physiological need, will simply fall ill and may even die.
Marmots are game animals. The fat of marmots is appreciated, as well as their light, but warm, fur. In natural conditions, bobaks are caught with the help of a loop and a trap. Weapons are also becoming a way of harvesting marmots. An interesting fact is that bobaks are able to see a person approaching at a distance of even four hundred meters.