Yellowed-bellied marmots sucking sweet radiator fluid keep hitching rides to the Bay Area.
The Wildlife Emergency Services in San Francisco learned about a marmot appearing in the backyard of the Potrero Hill neighbourhood after reports from residents.
The marmot has been living under their deck and spending each day dining on a garden of fresh greens, fruits and flowering plants.
WES staffer Duane Titus attempted to capture the marmot so it can be returned to its native habitat.
Marmotinis are ground-dwelling burrowing rodents. Marmots are the largest of this ground-squirrel tribe.
Marmots are found in higher elevations, above 6,000 feet.
In California, yellow-bellied marmots, affectionately called ‘whistle pigs’ for their shrill alarm calls and portly build. They inhabit the grasslands and alpine meadows of the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, and White Mountains.
Marmots are notorious for “hitching” rides as stowaways in engine compartments, ending up hundreds of miles from home.
Theories include the rodents’ attraction to the rubber hoses of an engine or the sweet-tasting but intoxicating radiator fluid – ethylene glycol.
While finding a marmot in the city is certainly unusual, it’s not uncommon.
In 2012, rescuers captured a marmot in San Jose, another one in Gilroy and again, last year, another marmot was captured.
This one actually became quite famous with its own Twitter account, Bernal Marmot.
While waiting, the family prepared lunch and invited Duane to join them.
Just after the meal, the marmot was observed loping (as much as a whistle pig can lope) in the yard, crossing the garden to the plum tree where it snacked on a couple of plums before finding a bit of Fig Newman.
Finally, it discovered a whole Fig Newman cookie on the lever, and that was that. Titus had his marmot.
To help out, the Rock Bar in San Francisco through a little fundraiser – a percentage of every Marmotini sold to help cover fuel costs of getting the marmot back home today.
Sammarye Lewis will be driving the critter back to May Lake.