In March 2010, when Dan recruited me to join the ranks of the marmoteers at RMBL, I only had a vague idea of what marmots are… something along the lines of giant hibernating rodents who eat a lot.
As I found out, some marmots are giant indeed! Over the course of the summer, I engaged in my share of wrestling matches with 5-kilogram adult male marmots who were less than thrilled about being “bagged and tagged” and would writhe and scuffle and chomp down at any human body part within range of their formidable buck teeth.
I also observed medium-sized marmots (yearlings), watching them through my binoculars or spotting scope and recording their play as they chased each other across the spectacularly scenic river valley landscape.
There were also tiny marmots, fuzzy pups that warmed hands and hearts on the wet, chilly mornings of the mountains. Newly emerged pups weighed less than 500 grams; they could be cupped in one hand and were exceedingly photogenic!
Forget cats and dogs; I’m a marmot person. I plan to work with the Blumstein Lab during my next two quarters on an honors thesis about marmot alarm calls. I am extremely excited to be, once again, in the company of those who gave me an incredible summer filled with epic adventures, breathtaking beauty, and the most awesome animals!