Saturday, May 11, 2013

Marmots and More

 After we finished our delightful hike up Pole Canyon, I decided to drive up to the top of the Baker Creek road in Great Basin National Park and see what other flowers were blooming. I found the hillside dotted with yellow from Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza saggita), a very bright and cheerful flower.

 A much smaller yellow flower was plantainleaf buttercup, also called meadow buttercup and water-plantain buttercup (Ranunculus alismifolius)

I had expected to see more flowers, but apparently it needs to warm up a bit more.

As I started to drive down the road, I saw a large rodent appear:
 A marmot! These large ground squirrels like the road base and burrow under the road and under the boulders next to the road to live. They appear every spring (and sometimes later winter--I heard reports of marmot sightings on the Baker Creek road in February). They love to eat greens, lounge around, and eat some more, maybe flowers or seeds this time. They have a good reason to eat--they are the longest hibernating animal in North America, snoozing away eight months of the year! They need to pack on the pounds before they go into their burrows and lose up to half their weight.

 This yellow-bellied marmot looked a little like a harbor seal to me! He (or she) might live up to 15 years.

 This youngster didn't know what to make of me. Marmots are quite fascinating, and because you can get relatively close to them (in contrast to, say, a mountain lion), they make for great wildlife watching. To learn more about marmots, click here.

Marmots don't rank real high for intelligence or speed, so it's up to humans not to run them over.
I'm guessing there aren't too many signs like this out in the world!

1 comment:

Alica said...

They remind me of groundhogs! I wonder if they are as destructive?

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