Long-tailed, Golden, or Red marmot

Marmota caudata

Distribution. High alpine meadows in the Hindu Kush, Karakoram, and Tien Shen mountains of Central Asia.


Long-tailed and golden marmots live in high alpine meadows often grazed by domestic sheep, goats, and yaks. They are only active about four and a half months each year and mature slowly. Animals do not leave their natal group for at least three years. Groups are generally comprised of a breeding pair and non-dispersing offspring. When there are multiple adults, groups are male biased. Older animals may move between social groups. When a new male joins a social group young pups are often killed. This sort of male infanticide has also been documented in alpine marmots. Breeding is infrequent: only 14% of the adult females bred annually at a site in Northern Pakistan. Golden marmots produce a single alarm call and vary the number of times they call according to risk. This is a 5-note alarm call. Interestingly, and perhaps suggestive of speciation in action, long-tailed marmots in the northern part of their range have a slightly different alarm call.


Photo: D.T. Blumstein

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