AskDefine | Define marmot

Dictionary Definition

marmot n : stocky coarse-furred burrowing rodent with a short bushy tail found throughout the northern hemisphere; hibernates in winter

User Contributed Dictionary



marmotte, marmotta, marmotto, of uncertain etymology.


  • Hyphenation: mar·mot


  1. any of several large ground-dwelling rodents of the genera Marmota and Cynomys in the squirrel family.


commons Marmota

Extensive Definition

Marmots are members of the genus Marmota, in the rodent family Sciuridae (squirrels).
Marmots are generally large ground squirrels. Those most often referred to as marmots tend to live in mountainous areas such as the Alps, Carpathians, Tatra, and Pyrenees in Europe, the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada in the United States, and Northern Canada. However, the groundhog is also properly called a marmot, while the similarly-sized but more social prairie dog is not classified in the genus Marmota but in the related genus Cynomys.
Marmots typically live in burrows, and hibernate there through the winter. Most marmots are highly social, and use loud whistles to communicate with one another, especially when alarmed.
Some historians suggest that marmots, rather than rats, were the primary carriers of the Bubonic plague or yersinia pestis during several historic outbreaks. this they are credited with a death toll of over a billion, making them second only to the malarial mosquito as a killer of humans.
The name marmot comes from French marmotte, from Old French marmotan, marmontaine, from Old Franco-Provençal, from Low Latin mures montani "mountain mouse", from Latin mures monti, from Classical Latin mures alpini "Alps mouse".
Marmots mainly eat greens. They eat many types of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, roots and flowers.
The writings of Marco Polo refer to the marmot as "Pharaoh's rats."
Marmots are also credited with transmitting numerous coughing ailments to humans.


The following is a list of all Marmota species recognized by Thorington and Hoffman (2005). They divide marmots into two subgenera.

Examples of species


  • Thorington, R. W. Jr. and R. S. Hoffman. 2005. Family Sciuridae. Pp. 754-818 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
marmot in Czech: Svišť
marmot in Danish: Murmeldyr
marmot in German: Murmeltiere
marmot in Spanish: Marmota
marmot in Esperanto: Marmoto
marmot in French: Marmotte
marmot in Croatian: Svisci
marmot in Ido: Marmoto
marmot in Italian: Marmota
marmot in Lithuanian: Švilpikai
marmot in Hungarian: Mormota
marmot in Dutch: Marmotten
marmot in Norwegian: Murmeldyr
marmot in Polish: Marmota
marmot in Portuguese: Marmota
marmot in Russian: Сурок
marmot in Simple English: Marmot
marmot in Slovenian: Alpski svizec
marmot in Finnish: Murmelit
marmot in Swedish: Murmeldjur
marmot in Chinese: 旱獺
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