All feed on the roots of grass; and when disturbed, like marmots, utter a whistling cry.
The various species of rapacious animals are disappearing, together with the colonies of marmots; the insectivores are also becoming scarce in consequence of the destruction of insects; while vermin, such as the suslik, or pouched marmot (Spermophilus), and the destructive insects which are a scourge to agriculture, become a real plague.
Characteristic forms of this order in northern Asia are the marmots (Arctomys) and the pikas, or tailless hares (Lagomys).
Among the rodents there are hares, marmots, beavers, squirrels, rats and mice, the last in enormous swarms. Of the larger game the chamois and deer are specially noticeable.
Wild yaks, wild asses (kulans), antelopes (orongo and others), marmots, hares and partridges exist locally in large numbers.
Post-orbital processes of the frontals exist in squirrels, marmots and hares; but in all other genera they are rudimentary or altogether absent; and the zygoma seldom sends upwards a corresponding process, so that the orbit is more or less completely continuous with the temporal fossa.
Squirrel Group. - The Sciuroidea, which include the great group of squirrels, sousliks, marmots, &c., all comprised in the single family Sciuridae, differ from the sewellels in having large post-orbital processes to the skull (figs.
The prairie-dogs, or prairie-marmots, Cynomys, are a North American group, in which the five-toed forefeet have the claw of the first as large as that of the fifth toe.
Finally, we have the marmots (Arctomys), which are larger and more heavily built rodents, with short ears, more or less short tails and rudimentary or no cheek-pouches.
Here are to be found yak, wild asses (kyang), several varieties of deer, musk deer and Tibetan antelope (Pantholops); also wild sheep (the bharal of the Himalaya), Ovis hodgsoni and possibly Ovis poli, together with wild goats, bears (in large numbers in the north-eastern districts), leopards, otter, wolves, wild cats, foxes, marmots, squirrels, monkeys and wild dogs.
Like other marmots it is a burrower.
The Carnivora include bears, wolverines, wolves, raccoons, foxes, sables, martens, skunks, kolinskis, fitch, fishers, ermines, cats, sea otters, fur seals, hair seals, lions, tigers, leopards, lynxes, jackals, &c. The Rodentia include beavers, nutrias, musk-rats or musquash, marmots, hamsters, chinchillas, hares, rabbits, squirrels, &c. The Ungulata include Persian, Astrachan, Crimean, Chinese and Tibet lambs, mouflon, guanaco, goats, ponies, &c. The Marsupialia include opossums, wallabies and kangaroos.
Marmots are also found in North America, Canada and China; the best, however, come from Russia.
In addition to their stout build and long thickly haired tails, marmots are characterized by the absence of cheek-pouches, and the rudimentary first front-toe, which is furnished with a flat nail, as well as by certain features of the skull and cheek-teeth.
Marmots inhabit open country, either among mountains, or, more to the north, in the plains; and associate in large colonies, forming burrows, each tenanted by a single family.
In the winter when the ground is deep in snow, marmots retire to the depths of their burrows, where as many as ten or fifteen may occupy the same chamber.
Many of the species have medium or even long tails, while some are nearly double the size of the typical representative of the group. All, however, have large cheek-pouches, whence the name of pouched marmots, by which they are sometimes called; and they have the first fronttoe rudimentary, as in marmots.
The cheek-teeth are more complex than those of marmots, and the two series converge behind.
In their slender build and :small size, prairie-marmots are much more like sousliks than marmots.
In habits these rodents are very like marmots, the typical species inhabiting the open prairies, while the others are found in mountains.
In America marmots are known as "wood-chucks" The Alpine Marmot (Arctomys marmotta).