Yellow-Bellied Marmot: The Woes of the Lowly Rockchuck

posted on 24th of april, 2009

Rockchucks (Marmota flaviventris), also known as Yellow-Bellied Marmots, have gotten a bad rap, but maybe they deserve it. These large (10-15 pound) furry rodents typically make their communal homes in rocky embankments and rockpiles, hence their name. In Central Oregon, where there is an abundance of basalt outcroppings from ancient lava flows, the rockchucks thrive among the crevices, roaming out from their protective rock pile to forage for vegetation whenever the coast is clear. Also nicknamed "Whistle Pigs" because of their shrill warning squeaks, Rockchucks are closely related to Hoary Marmots (native to the Northern Rockies), Richardson's Ground Squirrels (also known as "Sage Rats"), Woodchucks (also known as Groundhogs), and Prairie Dogs.


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Comments (4)

Posted by Toynutz on April 29, 2009
Thank you for your comments. It is indeed a lot of fun taking pictures of rockchucks, since they stand perfectly still, watching me intently to see what I'll do next.

(So they're watching me as I'm watching them watching me watching them...)

It's only when I get too close or move too quickly that they dart out of sight into the nearest rocky hole. When that happens, I just wait until they come back out, usually within a minute or two.
Posted by Tarzan9280 on April 28, 2009
I've never seen this in my life, and I don't think we can see it in China. To me it's cute and funny. It must be very fun to shoot them, I mean with camera:)

Posted by Toynutz on April 24, 2009
Yes, I love photographing these big furry critters, and I enjoy the challenge of getting so close and still not scaring them away. ...so, I've added two more close-up photos just approved.

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Dana Kenneth Johnson is an independent freelance photographer and writer living in Gowen, Michigan, and specializing in photographing toy cars and die-cast models, animals and wildflowers, scenic landscapes and nature details.

Gowen, Michigan, US

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