This Wildlife Wednesday, learn about the Vancouver Island marmot – Canadas most endangered (and possibly cutest?) mammal.
This Wildlife Wednesday, learn about the Vancouver Island marmot—Canada’s most endangered (and possibly cutest?) mammal.
Habitat: They only live in one place in the world: Vancouver Island, off the coast of British Columbia.
What are marmots?
If you’re wondering what a marmot is, you’re not alone! They’re technically large ground squirrels, and the Vancouver Island marmot is only one type out of approximately 14 species. Other marmot species live as far away from Vancouver Island as India.
Vancouver Island marmot trivia
- The Vancouver Island marmot (or Marmota vancouverensis, if you want to be scientific) may have come to the Island by crossing a land bridge during the Ice Age, more than 100,000 years ago.
- They are herbivores, and have been known to eat more than 50 types of plants found on the Island.
- They live in meadows, where there are enough plants for them to eat, and lots of soil for them to burrow. Because of this, they cannot live in forests.
- They live in colonies with many other Vancouver Island marmots. They often communicate by touching noses as a greeting, or “boxing” as play fighting.
- They use large boulders as lookouts to keep an eye out for predators. But they also use these boulders to sun themselves in the hot weather.
- However, they’re not fans of cold weather, and hibernate through the winters.
- Vancouver Island marmots can weigh as much as 7 kg—that’s one big squirrel!
Why they’re threatened
Predators such as wolves, cougars, and even eagles prey on marmots, but they’re not the only reason why they’re endangered—logging practices also put Vancouver Island marmots at risk of extinction by concentrating their population, making them more vulnerable to predators. Disease outbreaks and climate change may also be factors. A 2001 population estimate counted only 75 animals.
How to help Vancouver Island marmots
- Learn more about deforestation and only purchase paper products from responsible sources, such as post-consumer recycled paper or Forestry Stewardship Council Certified (FSC) paper.
- Do your part to fight climate change.
Looking for more Wildlife Wednesday posts?
Check out these past posts:
- Leatherback sea turtles
- Sumatran tigers
- Przewalski\’s horse