Pretend for a moment that you live in a small town of less than 100 people. That is about a quarter the size of an average elementary school, where everybody knows everybody. Now imagine that was the entire population of human beings in existence in the entire world. That’s a pretty scary thought. Well, that’s exactly what is happening to one of the world’s most endangered animals, the Vancouver Island marmot. In fact, these cuddly little animals, who are the largest member of the squirrel family, have had a population count as low as 30 in the past. One of fourteen marmot species, the Vancouver Island marmot has been listed as endangered since 1978. Fortunately there have been some steps taken to protect this endangered species.
Out of a burrow in the ground a rodent about the size of a housecat, 5-7kg (12-14 lbs), pokes her head. She sniffs the air with large nostrils that are part of her black flattened nose and blunt snout. She can be identified as a Vancouver Island marmot specifically because of her deliciously rich chocolate brown coloring with contrasting white patches. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics of Vancouver Island marmots from the rest of the marmot families. Her little round ears twitch this way and that.
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