There is a marmot at my house

Our marmot!

There is a marmot living under my front porch. I also heard it on the roof (hopefully the roof and not the attic), perhaps having a scuffle with a jay. Most days he/she is lounging on the front step or eating things in the field next door. It’s a little scruffy, the fur not as immaculately fluffed as the marmots on Wikipedia. But aside from being a little brazen, it seems nice enough. It has probably lived here longer than I have, after all.

If you’ve climbed a mountain in Colorado or scrambled over boulders in Utah, you have seen a marmot. When you move through wild places you are rewarded with adventure, wildflowers and sightings of wild animals: bighorn sheep, bears, pikas, mountain goats, and marmots. Marmots, with their loud and distinctive chirp, have always been a favorite of mine. I remember my dad returning their sharp, one-note whistle. They look like cat-sized squirrels, they are friendly, they want your sandwich! I’ve watched through binoculars as they stretch their furry rodent selves across the warmest boulders and move fluidly around doing their marmot things. A wild animal in the wild.

On my first run in the local canyon, a little open space park that almost retains the feel of a wild place, I was delighted to see three of them catching the first rays of sunrise on some boulders at the top edge. As far as I can tell, they are there every morning. And I have seen marmots several blocks from the canyon, next to a busy road, sunning themselves on the sidewalk.

Rock chuck aka marmot public art
They call it a rock chuck, but we know it's a marmot.

I’ve lived in the sticks, in the country, in various parts of the US, and I know that country living involves close contact with critters. It might be roaches, crickets, clover mites, pack rats, mice, unfriendly dogs… and in Central Oregon, it seems to be marmots. (And honestly, is a small city of 30,000 still considered country living?) My first instinct was to learn how to get rid of it, and the internet is full of possibly helpful tips. But now that we have spent a week or two together, I’m starting to get attached.

It’s possible that the marmot has been stashing things under the hood of RK’s truck and clogging the cabin filter. There are probably other reasons I don’t want to live with a rodent. But when I come home and he/she is relaxing on the porch, or nibbling the front grass, the marmot seems so relaxed and at home. Not like a high-strung chipmunk that scurries away at the slightest movement. My marmot seems to think we can work it out.

I don’t believe that Mack will stand for a marmot under his porch. I’m not going to give any details, but Mack has shocking speed and stealth for a dog of his size and generally pleasant temperament. Hopefully, the marmot decides life with two dogs is too risky and makes the move. Maybe checks out the canyon and reconnects with some old friends. It’s almost wild in that canyon, but not so much that a marmot from the city can’t feel at home.

Laurel Hunter

Laurel Hunter

Central Oregon, USA