Alpine Marmot in Tatras
|Copyright: Maciej Gaweski (maaciejka)
|Date Taken: 2011-05-14|
|Camera: Canon EOS 400D|
|Exposure: f/11, 1/800 seconds|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2011-05-17 11:40|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|This photo was taken on Saturday, during our trek through Tatras. We started from Palenica Bialczanska (980m), went throung Five Lakes Valley (about 1700m), Szpiglasowa Przelecz (2110), Morskie Oko lake and again to Palenica Bialczanska. Weather was mostly beautiful. Over 1800m, there were plenty of snow on north slopes so we had to use ice axes and crampons. During our trek we found Alpine Marmots. It was incredible, because there are very rare species. So for me it was a big surprise. I had seen them first time in my life!!!!|
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The Alpine Marmot (Marmota marmota) is a species of marmot found in mountainous areas of central and southern Europe. Alpine marmots live at heights between 800 and 3,200 metres in the Alps, Carpathians, Tatras, the Pyrenees and Northern Apennines Italy. They were reintroduced with success in the Pyrenees in 1948, where the alpine marmot had disappeared at end of the Pleistocene epoch. They are excellent diggers, able to penetrate soil that even a pickaxe would have difficulty with, and spend up to nine months per year in hibernation.
An adult alpine marmot may weigh between 4 and 8 kg, stand at 18 cm at the shoulder, and reach between 42–54 cm in length (not including the tail, which measures between 13–16 cm on average). This makes the alpine marmot the largest squirrel species. Its coat is a mixture of blonde, reddish and dark gray fur. While most of the alpine marmot's fingers have claws, its thumbs have nails.
As its name suggests, the alpine marmot ranges throughout the European Alps, ranging though France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. They have also been introduced elsewhere with sub-populations in the Pyrenees, Massif Central, Jura, Vosges, Black Forest, Apennine Mountains, High Tatras, and Romanian Carpathians. Marmots are abundant in their core population; in the Romanian Carpathians, for example, the population is estimated at 1,500 individuals. Alpine marmots prefer alpine meadows and high-altitude pastures and colonies, where they live in deep burrow systems situated in alluvial soil or rocky areas.
Alpine marmots eat plants such as grasses and herbs, as well as grain, insects, spiders and worms. They prefer young and tender plants over any other kind, and hold food in their forepaws while eating. They mainly emerge from their burrows to engage in feeding during the morning and afternoon, as they are not well suited to heat, which may result in them not feeding at all on very warm days. When the weather is suitable, they will consume large amounts of food in order to create a layer of fat on their body, enabling them to survive their long hibernation period.
When creating a burrow, they use both their forepaws and hind feet to assist in the work—the forepaws scrape away the soil, which is then pushed out of the way by the hind feet. If there are any stones in the way, the alpine marmot will remove them with its teeth provided that the stones aren't too large. "Living areas" are created at the end of a burrow, and are often lined with dried hay, grass and plant stems. Any other burrow tunnels that go nowhere are used as toilet areas. Once burrows have been completed, they only host one family, but are often enlarged by the next generation, sometimes creating very complex burrows over time. Each alpine marmot will live in a group that consists of several burrows, and which has a dominant breeding pair. Alpine marmots are very defensive against intruders, and will warn them off using intimidating behavior, such as beating of the tail and chattering of the teeth, and by marking their territory with their scent. One can often see an alpine marmot "standing" while they keep a look-out for potential predators or other dangers. If one is spotted, they will emit a loud whistle or chirp—one whistle is given for possible airborne predators, more for ground predators.
An alpine marmot at the end of summer. Note the fattened belly.The mating season for alpine marmots occurs in the spring, right after their hibernation period comes to a close, which gives their offspring the highest possible chance of surviving the coming winter. Alpine marmots are able to breed once they reach an age of two years. Dominant females tend to suppress reproduction of subordinates by being antagonistic towards them while they are pregnant while causes stress and kills the young. Once the female is pregnant, she will take bedding materials (such as grass) into the burrow for when she gives birth after a gestation period of 33–34 days. Each litter consists of between one to seven babies, though this number is usually three. The babies are born blind and will grow dark fur within several days. The weaning period takes a further forty days, during which time the mother will leave the young in the burrow while she searches for food. After this period, the offspring will come out of the burrow and search for solid food themselves. Their fur becomes the same colour as other alpine marmots by the end of the summer, and after two years they will have reached their full size. If kept in captivity, alpine marmots can live up to 15–18 years.
As the summer begins to end, alpine marmots will gather old stems in their burrows in order to serve as bedding for their impending hibernation, which can start as early as October. They seal the burrow with a combination of earth and their own faeces. Once winter arrives, alpine marmots will huddle next to each other and begin hibernation, a process which lowers their heart rate to five beats per minute and breathing to 1–3 breaths per minute, which uses up their stored fat supplies as slowly as possible. Body temperature will drop to almost the same as the air around them, although heart rate and breathing will speed up if the environment approaches freezing point. Some alpine marmots will starve to death due to their layer of fat running out; this is most likely to happen in younger alpine marmots.
marius-secan, PaulLees, bungbing, maurydv, siggi, lousat, anel, Argus, pierrefonds has marked this note useful
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Lovely species with such exceptional details, natural colors and perfect focus.
Great composition. Nice species.
Fantastic shot maciej!
Lovely animal in natural ambientation.
shaprness and details are impressive and the composition is very nice.
Thanks for sharing
A very nice image of this Alpine Marmot, splendid detailed sharpness lovely highlighted eye, good low point of view and a lovely presentation,
Well done Maciej,
Sorry no smilies next time,
Great captured of this lovely animal! very good details sharpness, nice point of view, lovely natural colours and very well exposure,
Thanks for sharing,
a very good portrait of the Alpine Marmot taken from an excellent frontal point of view, good sharpness and very beautiful natural colours, nice close composition
- [2011-05-17 14:41]
Very good capture of this lovely species,nice colors and great details.TFS.
a very lovely shot of this Alpine marmot, excellent focus on his face, his fur is also well detailed, wonderful POV and composition
Have a good night
Piekny okaz! Ma wspaniale futro. Czy on tez pracuje w fabryce czekoladek?! hi hi!
Very good to see these beautiful animals. Thanks for showing us. regards yiannis
- [2011-05-18 0:57]
Wyglada na to ze Cie polubil i ladnie pozowal.Pokazuje te zeby jakby sie do Ciebie usmiechal (albo do nas)Dobra ostrosc troche za ostre swiatlo ale calosc bardzo dobra.Pozdrawiam Siggi
- [2011-05-18 1:55]
Hi Maciej,this is a very lucky meeting and a beautiful capture,very good focus for the best details of the face,i can see the teeth too..eheeh...Thanks for share,have a nice day,Luciano
- [2011-05-18 4:05]
You have been very lucky to take shots of marmots. I know it is very difficult to photograph them in the wild. Last year I have seen a whole family in the Swiss Alps, but I didn't have the right lens. This one is a chubby one, it doesn't seem to have been hungry last winter.
- [2011-05-18 12:15]
A very nice clse capture of an Alpine Marmot.The harsh lighting was well managed, the sharpness excellent and the frontal POV against a the rocky BG looks good in this composition.
Thanks and best regards,
Interesting species and impressive photo with excellent composition, wonderful colour and good sharpness.
Ciao Maciek, lovely portrait of cute creature, fine details, wonderful natural colors and splendid sharpness, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio
The point of view is showing the details and colors of the marmot which seem to be on alert. The subject is well framed. The light seem to be strong but it does not hurt the ouput of the colors. have a nice day.