Animal of the Week: What is a Whistle Pig?

If you live anywhere in the West, you’ve probably seen these  lumbering rodents that look like they’re sporting a beer gut and you may also have heard them.  Due to their loud chirping sound and robust belly, they’re known as whistle pigs, or marmots.

Last summer, we were hiking up at Alta and heard this amazing chep Chep CHEP sound.  Mark immediately knew it was a yellow bellied marmot and could spot it about a 500 yards away.  We started talking to it and it talked back.  It was up on it’s hind legs and just kept chepping away with us.  We must have had a ‘conversation’ with the marmot for a solid 10 minutes.  Even our daughter who was 1 1/2 at the time and very quiet started saying “chep, chep!”.  We have a video of this which I will post when I can find it.

Interesting marmot facts:

  • Marmots are found in mountainous areas in the West, the Alps, Pakistan, India and northwestern Asia
  • Marmots are vegetarians and are considered large ground squirrels
  • As of last year, Alaska celebrates February 2 as “Marmot Day”, a holiday intended to take the place of Groundhog Day and observe the abundance of marmots in that state.
  • Marmots have been eaten for centuries as part of the cuisine of Mongolia where they hunt for them during the season the marmots are particularly fat (that seems every season to me!)
  • When marmots hibernate, they don’t keep their body temperature down all winter, but instead wake up every week or so(probably to get a snack!) and then go back to sleep
  • Due to their loud chirping sound, the yellow bellied marmots are nicknamed Whistle Pigs
  • People who study marmots or woodchucks are called marmoteers

About Katie Noble

Katie Noble is a real estate agent at Summit Sotheby's International Realty in the beautiful Heber Valley, Utah. She is a real estate professional in every sense of the word. Katie started her career at the age of five with a paintbrush in hand varnishing stairs in her parents’ vacation home in Cape Cod. She’s still not sure who would give a paintbrush to a five-year-old, especially one prone to knocking things over, but everyone survived even if there was an odd lump hidden under the carpet for years after. After graduating with honors from Colgate University with a degree in History, Katie's career ambition was to save the whales. In furtherance of this goal (and truly to avoid door to door canvassing talking about whales with strangers), she attended law school at the University of Utah College of Law in Salt Lake City, mostly because it was a great school and they gave her a scholarship. She thought that paying for law school herself and going all the way across the country would keep her family out of her business. Two words: flawed logic. Unable to find any whales in Utah that needed saving, Katie worked for The Nature Conservancy during law school. They told her she needed experience as a real estate attorney, so she dutifully went back to Boston and flew up the corporate ladder as a commercial real estate lawyer at prestigious law firms, such as Saul Ewing and Hinckley, Allen & Snyder. At a fairly young age, she became General Counsel for a multifamily investment firm, working primarily on $100 Million - $1 Billion apartment transactions. After ten years practicing law, sailing, and buying and selling her own properties in Boston and Newport, RI, Katie missed her old Utah life: the mountains, the sun, the snow, and the open spaces. Not one to fear change, Katie started a family and a new career selling real estate shortly after returning to Park City. Katie started selling commercial real estate for Commerce CRG then moved to residential as part of a top producing team. She now works on her own selling exclusive properties at the wonderful Summit Sotheby's agency. Katie loves helping people sell their homes and find their dream home or vacation property. She equally loves the logic and numbers involved in commercial real estate sales and development. Katie is a listener, negotiator, diplomat, advisor, and a trusted friend to all. True to her promise to save something (even if it wasn’t whales), several years ago she founded the successful non-profit Pure Midway which is dedicated to preserving Midway’s open spaces. Katie lives in Midway with her husband, young daughter, Bernese Mountain Dog, Golden Retriever and a rescue cat named Spanky. She loves art, traveling, baking, reading, hiking, skiing, mountain biking and hosting very last-minute parties, especially if they involve costumes.
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