Today was our first siting of an animal burrow at Galena! Although we don't know for sure, this hole appears to be some sort of rodent recently awakened from hibernation! Spring must be here!
Marmots are one such rodent that hibernate through winter, or sometimes even up to 8 months of the year. Since winter in the mountains has such limited amounts of food, marmots enter a deep sleep in order to conserve the precious fats they’ve built up during the previous summer and fall months. Marmots are able to “sleep” for so long because their heart rate drops from 100 beats per minute, to 4 beats per minute. They also reduce their breathing to just one breath every few minutes!
Marmots are also the heaviest species in the Squirrel family, and so, need an impressively sized hole to keep them safe. Some marmot hibernation dens have been to found to be over 20 feet deep!
Imagine how you would feel if you didn’t eat for 8 months and only took a deep breath every few minutes! Now imagine doing all that while curled up in a hole, 20 feet underground!
Nature is so cool!
This blog is managed by the staff and volunteers of Galena Creek Visitor Center. We write about parts of the natural world that we find fascinating and want to teach others about, as well as keeping you updated on the Visitor Center and park. If you want to learn more, please sign up for our monthly newsletter, where we share upcoming events, updates on the ecology of the park, and highlights from each month.