Human Food Creates Problems for Marmots and Other Wild Rodents

While in Rocky Mountain National Park, I met this adorable little creature on the Trail Ridge Road.  Marmots are large rodents that eat as much as possible during the summer to build up fat reserves that will sustain them during winter hibernation.   

Unfortunately, these smart marmots learned that it is easier to beg for food from tourists than search for it on their own.  This marmot followed me along the sidewalk, scampering from rock to rock.  I do not feed wild animals because I do not want to make them dependent upon people.  I also learned another reason why humans should not feed rodents from a sign at the park. (See image below)  According to park officials, studies show that the fat produced from junk food is not as good as the fat from a rodent’s traditional diet.  This poor quality fat leads to problems during hibernation and sometimes death.   


Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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