An old painting of a marmot sitting on a rock
A Marmot with a Branch of Plums, 1605 by Jacopo Ligozzi


More dangerous than you might think... [0]
By | | Updated

Popular culture has led many people to believe that marmots are docile, herbivorous, alpine rodents. This is not the case. Marmots are, without a doubt, the most dangerous of all alpine and subalpine animals. Marmots are primarily lapivorous (stone-eaters), and are able to consume large quantities of rock without suffering dental damage. All marmots, particularly young ones, prefer to eat meat over rocks although meat is often hard to find on a marmot infested mountain. Ptarmigan meat is preferred over all other meats but due to the ptarmigan’s ability to look like rocks, marmots cannot see ptarmigans. Marmots will not hesitate to eat other marmots.


Marmot diet

A typical marmot diet consists mainly of rocks, tourists, other marmots, and any other meat they can get their furry paws on. A 2003 study by the ASMSC, found that on average 48% of marmot feces consisted of metamorphic rocks, 2% of igneous rocks and 1% of sedimentary rocks. The other 48% was 24% human remains, 14% marmot remains and 10% miscellaneous remains of other alpine animals. Incidentally the entire study team was eaten by a pack of marmots. The data was recovered from marmot feces and was somewhat damaged. [1]

Hunting behavior

Marmots use two different hunting strategies, one is to lie in wait for prey, then leap out and eat it. The second is to run their prey to exhaustion. The second method of hunting is used more frequently. Marmots are able to maintain a constant speed of 27 miles per hour for up to six hours.


Similarly to other alpine rodents, marmots will hibernate from late October until early March. This short hibernation period is mainly because other alpine rodents will hibernate for longer periods of time, giving the marmots time to find hibernating animals and eat them.



Regular marmots don't exist. [2]

Flying Marmot:

A black and white photo of a marmot leaping off the side of a mountain.
The only known photo of a flying marmot. It was found in a camera on a mangled, unidentifiable body in 1904.

This now extinct marmot species when at rest looks similar to a Yellow-bellied marmot both in coloring and size. They primarily consume ptarmigans, although other alpine fauna are also consumed. The average Flying marmot stands three and a half feet tall at the shoulder. Their “flight” is enabled by large skin flaps stretched between the legs and high alpine winds. Flying marmots are believed to have evolved the ability to glide in order to better hunt ptarmigans. They appear to have an extra joint in their legs, although the extra joint comes from the fused bones of the first knuckle, the second knuckle acts as an ankle, leaving only one joint in the foot.

History of the flying marmot

The Flying marmot was first described to science by Alexander James Bent on the little-known 1809 Pike’s highest peak (pikes peak) expedition, led by Freidrich Von Allen, which set out to “catalog the myriad flora and fauna of Pike’s highest peak”. The tale, found in Bent’s journal, is as follows,

“We had just crested the southern slope of Pike’s highest peak, just below the treeline where we planned to camp for the remainder of our time spent on this expedition. Clonmel and I were dispatched to hunt for some of the many deer we had seen during our trek up the mountain. Here the journal relates a great deal of exaggerations on the size and number of the deer, before actually starting on the hunt. I noticed, towards the back of the herd, an aging deer with an odd shape upon its head. It appeared to be some sort of sack, although when we brought the deer down it proved to be some sort of animal. With a face like a marmot and wings like a bat.” [3]

Somewhat ironically Bent was killed later in the expedition by a flying marmot. The original specimen was carried back to Washington D.C. along with his journal. The specimen, badly damaged by the deer’s antlers and partially decomposed, was passed off as a hoax and it wasn’t until 1854 that a live specimen was successfully captured by Herbert Horatius Swope and the species was accepted by the American Society for Mammalian Species Classification (ASMSC). Swope, recognizing the species from the mangled one in the ASMSC archives named the species, after its discoverer, as Bent’s marmot. Although the name was later changed to Flying marmot to avoid confusion with the Bent marmot (see M’marmot). History will tell you that wingsuiting was invented on February 4, 1912 although in reality the first occurrence of wingsuiting was performed by miners stranded on Pikes peak in 1863 after the end of the gold rush and following a blizzard. The stranded miners were forced to capture hibernating flying marmots and use them as wingsuits to get off the mountain. This soon caught on and tourists flocked to the rocky mountains to participate in “marmot suiting,” one of these early “marmot suitors'' was a French man by the mane of Franz Reichelt, who would later become credited with the invention of wingsuiting.

Extinction of the flying marmot

In the late 1900s wingsuiters saw a sharp decline in Flying marmot numbers. This is generally attributed to the combined forces of changing ptarmigan migration patterns due to global warming and overhunting by wingsuiters. A captive breeding program was launched in 1984 by the American Society for the Conservation of Classified and Unclassified Mammal Species (ASCCUMS) (not to be confused with the American Society for the Conservation of Classified Mammal Species (ASCCMS), which only conserves mammal species classified by the ASMSC and mammal subspecies classified by the American Society for Classifying Mammal Subspecies (ASCMS). ASCCUMS teamed up with ASCCMS to capture live Flying marmots and transport them to a captive breeding facility on nearby Cameron cone (the Cameron Cone Captive Conservation Compound (CCCCC)). Needless to say, the captive breeding program was not successful. The last known Flying marmot died on May 2, 1988 of a grievous head injury obtained from flying at high speed into the observation window of the CCCCC. [c]

Behavior and hunting techniques.

As marmots are unable to see ptarmigans on the ground due to ptarmigan's ability to look like rocks, Flying marmots would wait for a ptarmigan to take off. Then, facing into the wind the Flying marmot would extend its legs to their full length and leap, using the wind to get airborne. Once in the air the marmots would manipulate their flight path using their legs and swoop down upon the ptarmigan. Flying marmots have been reported to take down young deer and on one occasion a pack of Flying marmots attacked, killed and consumed a black bear. Flying marmots are ballistic interception predators, soaring above their prey until the right time to strike.

Flying marmot hibernation

Flying marmots will start to gain a layer of fat for hibernation around mid-September. Until they enter hibernation in late November, the Flying marmots are too heavy to fly well and will take on behavior typical of regular marmots. In October when the regular marmots enter hibernation, Flying marmots will mark the hibernation spots and will later consume the hibernating marmots.

Former range

The Flying marmot was once common across most of the Rocky mountains, extending from mid-Canada to New Mexico. Flying marmots were most common in the Colorado Rockies around Pikes Peak.


The M’marmot is an endangered species of lowland marmot restricted to the San Luis valley of New Mexico and Colorado. It feeds primarily on Turkey vultures and other scavengers. The M’marmot attracts prey by playing “possum” and has several traits that aid in this deception. The most obvious of these traits is a back sharply kinked downward, giving it the appearance of having a broken back. In coloration the M’marmot is an unremarkable brown with matted fur. Its eyes are solid white giving it the appearance of being blind.

History of the M’marmot

The M’marmot was also first described by the Pike’s highest peak (pikes peak) expedition, led by Freidrich Von Allen. Allen found what he believed was a dead marmot. As the remaining expedition members came to collect the specimen (most of their marmot specimens had been eaten by a Rocky mountain marmot eater) the M’marmot, perceiving prey leaped to attack the expedition party. Allen relates the incident in his expedition journal:

“We had perceived a dead marmot on top of a rock just as we were leaving the San Luis valley. Clonmel was very excited at the prospect of being able to collect a marmot specimen as ours had been stolen from our camp in the dead of the night by what can only be known as the Rocky mountain marmot eater. When Clonmel grew closer to the Varmint it suddenly sprung up and fastened its teeth into his leg. Then there ensued much yelling as Clonmel tried to get the thing off his leg. After it had been slain we examined the specimen more closely. It appears to have a permanently bent back for reasons we can only begin to ponder. We have named this new species the Bent marmot due to its back. Clonmel’s leg has gotten infected from the bite and he might not make it. Possibly this new marmot has a venomous bite?” [5]

The M’marmot specimen went with the expedition members back to Washington D.C. where it was stored until the founding of the ASMSC. The founding members of the ASMSC renamed it from the Bent marmot to the M-shaped marmot, which later got shortened to M’marmot.

Behavior and hunting techniques.

Due to its corpse-like appearance the M’marmot is well adapted to its preferred hunting technique of pretending to be dead to attract scavengers. When an animal comes within striking distance, about one to two feet, the M’marmot will leap up and fasten its teeth to the animal. The M’marmot has venomous saliva which will kill a cow-sized animal within three days of being bitten. With the development of footpaths in the San Luis valley the M’marmot has become a concern to hikers, as it has developed a habit of lying on the paths and waiting for hikers or horseback riders. Concerned horse owners lobbied for less restrictive hunting laws in the early 2000s. When their request was granted, overzealous hunters drove the M’marmot to the brink of extinction. Seeking to restore their reputation after their failure twenty years ago with the Flying marmot, ASCCUMS and ASCCMS launched a vigorous captive breeding program. Thankfully for the M’marmot the Captive breeding program has been successful and M’marmot numbers have risen into the low hundreds. [6]


The M’marmot is restricted to the San Luis valley in New Mexico. Previously, it was believed that the M'marmot's range extended further east due to a baseless speculative report from Kansas however, an extensive study has revealed no former range expansion and it is now believed that the M’marmot was always restricted to the San Luis valley. [7]

Categories: Animals


  • What? This isn't clickbait, we would never do that.
  • Nalnud, Vuut. Zatli, Eatin, "Marmot Diet." A Totally Real Scientific Paper Publishing Organization, 2003
  • Ketchup, Pice. "Regular Marmots: They Don't Exist." Ured Books, 1876
  • Bent, Alexander James. "The Journals of Alexander James Bent." Historical Journal Publishing Co, 1809
  • Collins, Cameron Cohen. "Chronicles of the Cameron Cone Captive Conservation Compound." The Chronicle Company, 2000
  • Allen, Freidrich Von. "The Journals of Freidrich Von Allen." Historical Journal Publishing Co, 1809
  • Jent, Bames. "M'marmots." Does Anyone Actually Read This Stuff Inc, 2017
  • Amspoker, Anne. Throndsen, Bill. Tuffin, Thrond. "An Extensive Study Into the Possible Former Range of the M'marmot." A Totally Real Scientific Paper Publishing Organization, 2005

Sponsored content