Alpine marmots at Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria  

Alpine marmots at Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria

Are these two alpine marmots waiting to hear news of spring from their distant American relative, the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil? Truth be told, here in the snowy Eastern Alps of Austria, most marmots will likely sleep through Groundhog Day, which is celebrated in the United States and Canada each year on February 2. Alpine marmots hibernate for up to nine months a year in underground burrows, relying on fat reserves to stay alive. During this time, their heart rate lowers to 5 beats per minute and they breathe just 1 to 3 times per minute. Sleep well, little friends.

© blickwinkel/Alamy

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