Face to face: Marmota marmota

Marmota marmota

Kings of the hill. Well, mountain, actually.

Happy New Year! Oh wait, it’s too late. Here, take this couple of Alpine marmots (Marmota marmota) photographed by my father a few years ago in the Friulan Dolomites Natural Park, as a gift for you, for no specific reason. I’ve recently read that in the Friulan Dolomites marmots are not indigenous, but were introduced, along with mouflons and ibexes. Now, I can understand introducing mouflons and ibexes, since they can be hunted for food and sport, but… why the heck marmots? Is it because people expects them to be part of the alpine environment and thus local people didn’t want to disappoint tourists? Is it because they whistle very well (a signal of alarm, actually, used to alert the others of a predator in sight)? Is there someone actually hunting and eating marmots (which wouldn’t be that weird)? I dunno. I don’t even know if and how the marmots have had a negative impact on this ecosystem. Since they’re rodents, one would think they do have some kind of negative impact, since rodents reproduce fast and eat a lot, and this particular rodents also dig burrows in the ground, an habit that has created problems in a completely different environment with a completely different burrowing rodent, the Coypu (Myocastor coypus) – more on that will be the subject of a future post.

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