Marmot hitchhikes hundreds of miles to Glendale from Colorado

Jul 16, 2021, 4:45 AM | Updated: 9:02 am
(Arizona Department of Game and Fish photo)...
(Arizona Department of Game and Fish photo)
(Arizona Department of Game and Fish photo)

PHOENIX — The yellow-bellied marmot with its high-pitched shriek is non-native to Arizona, but one ended up in Glendale hundreds of miles from home.

A person called the Arizona Game and Fish Department to report a strange animal that was running around in a parking lot, jumping into vehicles.

Biologist Sharon Lashway said the female marmot, named “Fork,” somehow made her way to the Grand Canyon State from Colorado.

“She survived the trip in the record-breaking heat in June,” Lashway said.

Yellow-bellied marmots are related to groundhogs and gophers. They’re also known as rock chucks.

They’re invasive in Arizona and cannot survive away from home.

“We were able to successfully trap her and found out she had an ear tag,” Lashway said.

Lashway used that to call Fork’s home – the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab in Gothic, Colorado.

“She’s really social, so we should probably get her back,” said biologist Dan Blumstein, who also serves as vice-chairman of the lab’s board of trustees.

He added marmots are often hitchhikers.

“But the idea that a marmot could get under a car and somehow travel about 10 hours to the Phoenix area is just extraordinary,” Blumstein said.

To identify this wayward marmot, the lab painted a fork on her. She reunited with her brother, his name is “Spoon.”

The biologists are thankful the marmots are back together.

“It’s important to keep tabs on non-native species that enter into our ecosystem, because of the fragility of the Arizona wildlife and our structure,” Lashway said.

“Disease transportation and resource competition are important to monitor.”

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Marmot hitchhikes hundreds of miles to Glendale from Colorado