Marmots live primarily on a diet of foraged plants and grasses, which they easily gnaw down using their long, beaver-like teeth.
Favourite snacks include bracken fern fiddleheads, oat grass, woodrush, phlox, and cow parsnip.
They often forage in the mornings and evenings when they are more camouflaged and temperatures are lower.
They’ll spend their afternoons basking in the shelter of rocky outcroppings, or in the comfort of their burrows and dens.
Vancouver Island Marmots are social creatures, but hibernate for nearly seven months of the year.
This makes their dens a huge part of their life!
Scientists who have tracked marmots discovered that many families will return to the same den to hibernate year after year.
Their burrowing nature is a significant part of why they prefer the smooth, treeless paths which are made by avalanches, or found in mountainside meadows.
The soil must be loose enough to dig and shape, dense enough to support a tunnel, and deep enough to avoid frost during the coldest winter nights.
This makes the perfect place to build a den surprisingly tricky to find!
As humans have changed many of their natural habitats, the marmots have been known to construct their dens near logging camps or in clear-cut forest areas.
However, as the trees regenerate, this often interferes with their homes and forces them to move elsewhere.
As of Spring 2020, conservationists have observed and tracked roughly 20 colonies of marmots throughout Vancouver Island. Most of them are located around the Mount Washington, Strathcona, and Nanaimo Lakes regions.
While their numbers make them a rare sight in the wild, captive breeding programs at the Toronto and Calgary zoos means you may be able to spot one near you!