Which Animal Colony Has Its Own Air Raid Warden?

The small hairy rodents known as marmots that live on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains have an amazing warning system against attack from the sky.

These rabbit-sized rodents live in family groups in colonies, with each family digging out and living in its own burrow on the slope of the mountain. Marmots lead busy, happy lives, eating moss and plants, and for the most part completely unconcerned about any outside danger. But they have good reason to be unconcerned, for one member of the colony is always perched on a high rock on the lookout for the marmot’s dreaded enemy of the sky, the eagle.

One glimpse of this feared enemy and the “air-raid warden” sends out a thundering whistle. Hearing it, the marmots rush for cover in their burrows, leaving the slopes deserted and still. Once the eagle has flown away, the warden gives the “all-clear” signal by another whistle and the marmots return to their busy outdoor lives.

The marmot’s whistle, a long, loud shriek, can be heard for two miles in any direction, the farthest reaching sound made by any land animal, large or small!

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