Under Construction May 2011


Marmota caligata


Length: 40-60mm (ASM #1) 60mm max (ASM #2)

Diameter Range: 125 – 135 microns, but smaller on the tail, with 87 to 115 microns wide there. (ASM #1)

Medullary Index: 0.65 to 0.7 (ASM #1). 

Medulla: Medulla width is 77.5 to 87.5.  Tail hairs were a bit different, ranging in width from 47 to 72 microns and a medullary index of 0.5 to 0.6 (ASM #1)

Color: Banded with black and white fibers, salt and pepper appearance (ASM#1)  5-10mm black tip (ASM #2)

Scales: Larger guard hairs have a wavy jigsaw-puzzle like look.


Length:  60-130mm (ASM #1)

Diameter Range: 40-45 microns (ASM #1)

Medullary Index: 0.38 

Medulla: The medulla can be up to 20 microns maximum width but very few were that size.  Maybe those were more intermediate hairs. (ASM #1)  Didn’t see any fine wispy underfur, most of the medullas in underfur were either uniserial ladder or more complex tire-tread looking medullas..

Color: brownish pigment unevenlydistributed.

Scales: Stacked crown look, but in some areas the petals or points of the crown look more like the scales are 2-3 across the width of the shaft.

Macro Qualities: 26.8-29.5” long Head and shoulders are black and white, lower back and rump are grizzled gray/yellow, and gray/white underbelly.  Twice as large as a groundhog.  Largest of the North American squirrels (Forsyth 1999).  Up to 30” Both hoary and Alaska marmots are predominantly gray with a darker lower back and face and a dark reddish tail. Hoary marmot often has a white patch above its nose and dark brown feet.  Fur of the hoary marmot is much stiffer than the Alaska marmot  (ADF&G 2008) )  When Bachrach describes marmots, he says they are “blue” in the period before their hibernation when there is bluish contrast between the brown tip and the white center of the hair, and “yellow” after they awaken from hibernation and there is warmer contrast between the brown tip and yellowish center. In these “yellows” the guard hair on the center back of the animal has a twist or curl to it (Bachrach 1953).  Montague Island marmots can be almost solid black (Dufresne 1946).  Some of the fibers are kinked and overall fine (ASM#1 2010)

Cultures: For example: Yup’ik sources say skins cannot get wet when new, but the reference also mentions parkas made of marmot skins were good in wet weather.  (p. 258-259)  Yup’ik men captured these small furbearers in the fall (p.245)  Fienup-Riordan (2007) Yuungnaqpiallerput: The Way We Genuinely Live.  Masterworks of Yup’ik Science and Survival.  Anchorage Museum Association.  American marmot species tend not to be used in the fur industry.

Notes: ASM #1 sample is courtesy of the American Museum of Natural History, AMNH catalog number 125683, ASM #2 is courtesy of Riley Woodford, ADF&F, who gathered it from Mt Roberts in Juneau 8/15/2010 near Gastineau Peak, 1 ½ miles south of Juneau, at den opening.

Troubleshooting:  Unlike the Alaska marmot, some guard hairs had very skinny medullas, sometimes giving a medullary index of 0.1

Range: Mostly in the Panhandle (Forsyth 1999)  Alpine areas of Alaska south of the Yukon River  (ADF&G 2008).  South of the Yukon River in mountainous regions (MacDonald and Cook 2009).

Names: Order Rodentia (the rodents) Sometimes called “whistlers”

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