A little over a week ago I had another great adventure in Yellowstone. Wow what a week. All day. Everyday capturing scenics, critters and some videos!
My adventures one day was with a Yellow Bellied Marmot family. With a week to play I could take my time and wait for the best shots. The Marmots did not disappoint. I was laughing more than anything.
Marmots reproduce when about two years old, and may live up to an age of fifteen years. They reside in colonies of about ten to twenty individuals. Each male marmot digs a burrow soon after he wakes up from hibernation. He then starts looking for females, and by summer may have up to four female mates living with him. Litters usually average three to five offspring per female. Only about half of those pups survive and become yearlings. Marmots have a “harem-polygynous” mating system in which the male defends two or three mates at the same time. Female offspring tend to stay in the area around their home. Male offspring typically leave when they are yearlings and will defend one or more females.
Yellow-bellied marmots spend about 80% of their life in their burrow, 60% of which is spent hibernating. They often spend mid-day and night in a burrow as well. These burrows are usually constructed on a slope, such as a hill, mountain, or cliff. The hibernation burrows are can be up to 5 to 7 metres (16 to 23 ft) deep, but the burrows constructed for daily use are usually only 1 metre (3.3 ft) deep. Their hibernation period varies on elevation, but it is typically from September to May. Occasionally, they will climb trees and other flora, but they are usually terrestrial.
My experience this day with these curious critters was entertaining. Though my efforts did not produce images of the young. Their antics is burned into my mind.
As more time went by the adult male was less intimidated by my presence. In fact he seemed to be playing with me a little!
The very best part was when I placed met GoPro near the den. At first I set it a reasonable distance from the den. Then as the big male got more familiar with it I would move it closer. Until finally I put it on a rock next to one of the dens. Click Here for the video of the curious dad. When I finally got back to the trailer that night, I about laughed my head off. They really are curious little creatures.