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These peculiar and roughly rabbit-sized rodents enjoy great popularity at the Großglockner in the Austrian Alps. Before the last ice age, marmots used to live in the lowland of Tirol, but with the melting of the glaciers they were driven higher up into the mountains – a trend that will continue given the current climate change. Today, they simply feel too warm below 800 meters. In spring, as soon as the temperatures begin to rise, marmots leave their dens after a nearly six-month long hibernation. After eating their share and recovering from the long fast, losing up to a third of their body weight, the most important thing is founding a family.
And that sometimes involves rather fierce territorial conflicts amongst the males. As long as there is snow covering the meadows, the marmots run a high risk being out – golden eagles are looking for prey. But the marmots have an efficient warning system set up: while the group is feeding, several sentinels are located around the meadow, warning the others by shrill whistling. At the start of summer, the young ones will appear and need to be extra careful.
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