The yellow-bellied marmot is a large, stout-bodied ground squirrel in the marmot genus family. It can be found living above 2,000 meters or 6,500 feet on mountainous regions of southwestern Canada and western United States. This includes gorgeous mountain ranges such as the Rocky Mountains or the Sierra Nevada. To encounter the yellow-bellied marmot in the wild you are going to have to put on your hiking shoes, grab some water and head up to higher elevation.
Are Rock Chucks Dangerous to people or pets?
As long as you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone. This means that they may bite if disturbed so it is best not to feed them or let your trail dogs chase after them. However, the biggest threat they pose is that marmots can carry a bunch of nasty things like ticks which cause Lyme Disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
When you see a rock chuck in the wild it best to admire them from a distance. However, even if you tried to approach one, they would scurry away and hide in an ocean of rocks where they can dip and dive to avoid any contact.
With that being said, most hikers that encounter rock chucks should be more worried about their pets chasing after them instead of any harm that can be done to themselves.
What do Rock Chucks Look Like?
Rock chucks have a rather frosty appearance with some of its facial hair having pale tips carried out by dark thick stalks. The yellow-bellied marmot has an interesting skull shape and dark colored head. Its nose is black but with an off white coloration that makes it seem light. Their body is covered in a thick fur that ranges in color from dark orange to frothy white - these are all good adaptations to help them survive harsh weather conditions like winter cold.
Their weight ranges any where from 3 lbs all the way up to 11 lbs and they carrier their weight in a way that makes them look like a teenager that loves playing video games and munching on Cheeto Puffs when they are sitting down, over looking their domain from a rock hill.
What do Rock Chucks Eat?
The Yellow-bellied marmot is diurnal, or in other words they're less active at night. Their diets consist of mostly plants, but they sometimes eat bird eggs and insects as well for protein when necessary. They can also be seen eating fruits occasionally.
Most of their diet depends on the season, for example when it is early spring they can be seen eating lot more flowers and in the late fall they will eat mostly grass, forms or seeds that have grown during the summer.
It isn't often that you will find a rock chuck near a mountain stream or a lake enjoying a nice sip of cold mountain spring water. This is because their diet, foods such as alfalfa and clover, provides most of their water requirements. Leaving them the freedom to live high above the rest of the world in a climate that most animals and plants could not survive in.
Where Do Rock Chucks Live?
As mentioned above, rock chucks live in the western mountain ranges of North America. Covering states such as Utah, Colorado, Idaho, & Montana. They even venture a little bit into Canada but you will not find them a couple hundred miles north of the Canada-American border. Rock Chucks can even be found as far south as northern New Mexico — giving these little guys a wide range of land that they cover.
High up on the mountain tops, it does get cold and these furry little creatures are known for their ability to withstand the frigid temperatures. Marmots live in habitats such as meadows and talus fields that have open spaces.
You can often find them in steppes, meadows, or rocky outcrops called talus fields. Sometimes these animals even take up residence near forest edges which provide more space than deep woodlands. They sometimes reside on the edge of forests or deciduous trees because they need room to move around.
Over all, a single rock chuck will cover about 6 acres of land around these areas. If you happen to visit an area where one lives, you will find a number of burrows dug that allow quick hiding places and protection from the elements.
Where do Rock Chucks Get Their Name?
Rock chucks actually have a few different names and they all differ depending on where you are from.
"The names vary from whistle pig - they do whistle - to potgut-they do have a potbelly." said John Goodell "Here in California we know them as rock chucks and biology books call them yellow bellied marmots or by scientific name Marmota flaviventris."
The name Rock Chuck has stuck around because hikers will often see one in a pile of rocks and as they scurry off small rocks will topple down the pile of rocks.
What if I have a Rock Chuck in my yard and I want it gone?
It is not often that rock chucks will come into peoples yards, simply because we don't typically build homes high up in the mountains where they dwell but it does happen, especially if your home was built on theirs.
To get rid of these guys you are going to want to call a professional. This is because their territory most likely extends beyond your property and they can carry various diseases that you do not any part of. A professional wildlife remover like Pestcom Pest Management will be able to remove the rock chuck from your property & all of its furry friends.
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