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a genus of rodents of the family Sciuridae. The body measures up to 60 cm in length, and the tail is generally less than half the body length. The coloration varies from light sandy-ocher to dark brown and ocher-red. The head is usually darker than the trunk. Members of the genus Marmota, which consists of 15 species, inhabit open areas of plains, except deserts and tundras, and mountains of the northern hemisphere to an elevation of 4,800 m. There are six species in the USSR, the best known being the alpine marmot (Marmota marmota), the Tarba-gan marmot (Marmota bobac), and Marmota sibirica; these species inhabit the steppes and semideserts from the Volga Region to Kamchatka.
The animals live in colonies in deep burrows. They hibernate in the winter. The diet consists of the young shoots of fonds and grasses. The female usually gives birth to four or five young, which grow to maturity within two to three years. Marmots are hunted for their fur. Many are natural carriers of the pathogen of bubonic plague. Fossil remains dating from the end of the Miocene have been found.
REFERENCESMlekopitaiushchie fauny SSSR, part 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963.
Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.
I. M. GROMOV