One of the largest in the rodent family. Hibernate up to 8 months, emerging from February to May depending on elevation; may estivate in June in response to dry conditions and lack of green vegetation and reappear in late summer. Breed within two weeks of emerging from hibernation; average five young per year.
Active in morning, late afternoon, and evening. Prey for coyotes, grizzlies, and golden eagles. Colonies consist of one male, several females, plus young of the year. Vocalizations include a loud whistle (early settlers called them “whistle pigs”), a “scream” used for fear and excitement; a quiet tooth chatter that may be a threat.Males are territorial; dominance and aggressiveness demonstrated by waving tail slowly back and forth.
Reddish-brown upper body; yellowish belly; small ears; prominent active tail.
20-28 inches (0.5-0.7 m)
3-11 pounds (1.3-5 kg)
13-15 years in the wild
Found from lowest valleys to alpine tundra, usually in open grassy communities and almost always near rocks.
SIGNS OF PRESENCE:
Vocalizations include a loud whistle (early settlers called them “whistle pigs”), a “scream” used for fear and excitement; a quiet tooth chatter that may be a threat.
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