The Alpine marmot (marmotte des Alpes), which is common in the Parc National du Mercantour, is related to the American woodchuck or groundhog.
Marmot live in colonies, often in the boulders of large rock slides. You'll often hear them before seeing them, as their piercing alarm whistle is audible for kilometers in the clear mountain air.
The marmot has thick fur with variable coloring of grey and brown. The tip of the tail is black, the ears very short and the short muzzle grey. They are diurnal, but will sit outside their burrows at night in late summer because their thick fur and pre-hibernation fat is too hot. During hibernation, their heartbeat drops from 130 per minute to around 15 per minute and breathing drops to about 5 per minute.
60 cm long, plus 20 cm tail; weight 3-6 kg, drops 50% in Spring after hibernation
Mountain rock slides above the tree line and Alpine meadows; sometimes down as low as 600 m altitude in old rock slides with thick vegetation. They dig complex burrows, with several attached rooms, up to 3 m deep and 10 m long. They also make simple burrows for use in an emergency.
They eat grasses and other plants, the above-ground parts of roots and bulbs, insects and worms.