MARMOT

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MARMOT {arctomys); a genus of small quadrupeds, somewhat resembling the rats, with which they were classed by Lin naeus. They have two incisors in each jaw, and ten grinders in the upper, and eight in the lower jaw; four toes, and a tubercle in place of a thumb, on the fore feet, and five on the hinder. There are several species, the most striking of which are the Alpine marmot [A. Alpinus), about the size of a rabbit, with a short tail; of a grayishyellow color, approaching to brown towards the head. This species inhabits the mountains of Europe, just below the region of perpetual snow, and feeds on insects, roots and vegetables. When these animals (which live in societies) are eating, they post a sentinel, who gives a shrill whistle on the appioach of any danger, when they all retire into their burrows, which are formed in the shape of the letter Y, and well lined with moss and hay. They remain in these retreats, in a torpid state, from the autumn till April. They are easily tamed. The Quebec marmot (A. empetra) inhabits the northern part of the American continent. It appears to be a solitary animal, dwells in burrows in the earth, but has the faculty of ascending trees. Its burrows are almost perpendicular, and situated in dry spots, at some distance from the water. When fat, it is sometimes eaten. Its fur is of no value.Woodchuck (A. monax). This species, which is also known by the name of groundhog, is common in all the Middle States, living in societies, and making burrows in the sides of hills, which extend a considerable distance, and terminate in chambers lined with dry grass, leaves, &c. They feed on vegetables, and are very fond of redclover. They are capable of being tamed, and are very cleanly. The female produces six young at a birth. There are many other marmots inhabiting North America which have been considered as belonging to the subgenus spermophilus. The most celebrated of these is the Prairie dog,or Wistonwish {A. ludovicianus). It has received the name of prairie dog from a supposed similarity between its warning cry and the barking of a small dog. They live in large communities ; their villages, as they are termed by the hunters, sometimes being many miles in extent. The entrance to each burrow is at the summit of the mound of earth thrown up, during the progress of the excavation below. The hole descends vertically to the depth of one or two feet, after which it continues in an oblique direction. This marmot, like the rest of the species, becomes torpid during the winter, and, to protect itself against the rigor of the season, stops the mouth of it* hole, and constructs a neat globular cell at the bottom of it, of fine dry grass, so compactly put together, that it might be rolled along the ground almost without injury. The other American species of this subgenus are, Parryi guttatus, Richardsoni, tYanklini, Beecheyi, Douglasi, lateralis, Hoodi. (See Richardson, Faun. Am. Bor. and Godman's Nat. Hist.)