Guy On Hike is surprised to find out what groundhogs look like
Recently, Cameron Herbolsheimer was hiking with his dog in Washington’s North Cascades National Park when an unusual sound hit his ears. It was a high-pitched type of beep – almost like a smoke alarm going off.
Despite being in the forest, miles from civilization, Herbolsheimer wasn’t entirely convinced the sound was of natural origin.
“I thought it might be an animal, but I wasn’t sure,” he told The Dodo.
So Herbolsheimer moved closer to see what – or who – was making that shrill noise. And of course:
Turns out the sound was coming from one of the area’s most iconic residents – a rocky mountain marmot. The species, also known as the whistle pig, is known for its high-pitched, shrill cry. But that was news for Herbolsheimer.
“I’ve seen marmots before,” Herbolsheimer said. “But I never knew they were screaming/whistling like that.”
More interestingly, the marmot that day could very well have “talked” about him.
If the marmot had seen Herbolsheimer and his dog in the distance, she might have thought it prudent to warn her fellow marmots.
“[T]These vocalizations are called “alarm calls” and groundhogs who hear them respond by immediately looking around and returning to their burrow if they are not already at one,” biologist Daniel T. Blumstein wrote in a article on the subject “Groundhogs generally become alarmed when they see natural predators, such as coyotes, foxes, and sometimes when they see eagles and other large birds. Depending on where the groundhogs live groundhogs and how accustomed they are to people, groundhogs can make an alarm cry when they see a person.
Fortunately, Herbolsheimer and his dog had no ill intentions towards the noisy little animal. After this encounter, he continued to walk – his curiosity for the high-pitched sound having been happily satisfied:
“I was really surprised that it was marmots!” he said.