Pretty and fluffy animals, you can encounter them near almost every volcano, but most of them live next to the foot of the Koryaksko-Avachinskaya group of volcanoes. This place is a gastronomical paradise for ground squirrels, and not only because of its natural blessings – generous tourists also love to present them with something yummy to eat!
Kamchatka marmot is the biggest among all ground squirrels in the world - its normal weight is 700-800 grams. They live together in holes which reach up to three meters in depth and fifteen meters long, and these holes have several entry and exit locations.
Ground squirrels, just like Kamchatka brown bears, go into winter hibernation for nearly eight months. When the first snow falls, usually in the end of September, Kamchatka marmots close the doors of their holes with dirt and go to sleep. They wake up only at the end of April or at the beginning of May – it’s the time of the year when snow is still lying in the mountains, and ground squirrels use their summer stores of food for eating.
You can easily hand feed ground squirrels which live at the foot of Avachinskiy volcano – they have become accustomed to people and are not afraid of them anymore. There are some extremely brave marmots which run towards tourists when they see them get out of cars or when they hear the rustling of a group of tourists.
Usually tourists feed ground squirrels with bread and cookies, which do unfortunately have a negative effect on their overall health. Also, such delicacies go bad in the marmots’ winter stores of food, quickly spoiling previously picked supplies that they have already gathered along the way. Because of this please take nuts, solid fruits or vegetables with you if you would like to feed ground squirrels without causing them any harm.