Steppe marmot or “Woodchuck” – the largest of all marmots. Thick, short-legged, with a big belly. With a weight of 10 kilograms – so much they eat to the cold.
By winter, fat, they seem to be wrapped in warm sweatshirts. Once in our places, woodchucks were found in abundance, in the beginning of the 20th century not a single one remained. Furry furry hunted for fur, meat and fat, and cleaned marmots wasted plowing steppes. In the 1980s, biologists again populated the Lipetsk region with marmots. They released animals caught in the Saratov region.
Migrant animals settled down and gradually settled. Fifteen years ago they appeared in the valley of the Semenyok River. Marmots love open places. Thickets prevent them from living: they close the view and do not let them notice the danger in time. The whole team is responsible for the security. While some people eat, others keep a sharp eye on the surroundings, standing in a “column”. Noticing the danger, woodchucks shout in warning and run into their burrows with all their feet. In the burrows, marmots spend most of their lives.
They go out only in the morning and in the evening to feed on grass, tubers, plant bulbs, and at midday they hide again. From autumn to spring you will not see a woodchuck at all – they go into hibernation.
People say: “sleeps like a woodchuck,” and this comparison is quite justified. Woodchucks sleep soundly and long – seven months a year. In spring, steppe marmots wake up before anyone else. They come out of the burrows in March, when the snow did not melt.
They “walk” through thawed patches, looking for roots in the ground, basking in the spring sun. Since winter, they have subcutaneous fat, it is enough for the first time after awakening. As soon as fresh grass is pecked, the woodchucks are consumed with food.
Woodchucks can eat a kilogram of greenery in one day. After a month, marmots appear. During pregnancy and feeding, the father is evicted to another hole. All care goes to the kids. None of the rodents have such a long childhood as in marmots.
Their eyes open only for 23 days, and their mother feeds them with milk for another month. Only then young people come out of the hole and try the grass. Until the first winter, the female still protects the little ones, teaches them to avoid danger.
The annual marmots are quite independent, but still in the parental hole they learn all sorts of worldly wisdom. Before the second wintering, the young leave their native hole and move … to their neighbors. In their place come marmots from other families.
Why animals need such an exchange is still unknown. Steppe marmots are first-class excavators. Their specifics are complex burrows with multimeter passages, with rears, nesting chambers and ten exits. Dug deep into two meters. Earth throws up. So near the burrow formed hills Surchyna.
This observation points woodchucks. In addition, each family builds simple burrows — protective ones; in them they hide in danger, sometimes they spend the night. Such burrows are up to 10 in the settlement.