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March 29, 2021 7:03 am

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Archie the male woke up first. He is already emerging from the burrow to inspect his possessions and bask in the sun. In the street part of the aviary, you can see him in the morning and afternoon.

Marmots woke up in the Moscow Zoo. They were the first to emerge from hibernation, the rest of the zoo’s inhabitants are still preparing to awaken. This year, all the animals slept longer than usual due to the cold and snowy winter. For example, marmots usually wake up in the first week of March. However, this time they were in no hurry to leave the cozy hole.

The exposition of the capital’s zoo presents three marmots – females Sara and Nagaina, as well as a male Archie. Their aviary is located in the old territory of the zoo, next to the Baltic gray seals and crowned cranes. At the end of summer, the animals began to prepare the burrow for sleep: they insulated the sleeping area with straw, swept out excess soil and litter from the underground tunnels.

The rodents went into hibernation with the arrival of the first cold weather, at the end of September. As in previous years, Archie first put Sarah and Nagini to bed, and then for another two weeks made regular rounds of the property, snacking on corn and fresh clover. Before settling down next to his family, the male locked the hole from the inside: he plugged the entrance with a homemade cork made of earth and grass – so in the “bedroom” the optimum temperature was maintained not lower than zero degrees.

“Thanks to the fat reserves accumulated over the summer, animals can sleep for about five months. At this time, their metabolic processes slow down: the frequency of heartbeat and respiration decreases, and the body temperature drops to eight degrees. Marmots are very sensitive to the temperature upstairs and leave the underground dwelling only when warming comes. Closer to March, zoologists began to prepare for the awakening of animals: they removed the snow in the aviary, put straw. Archie woke up before Sarah and Nagini. Females come out one to two weeks later than the male, but for now they bask in a warm burrow, ”said Svetlana Akulova, General Director of the Moscow Zoo.

The male has already managed to clear the way out of the hole from the earth, dry grass and clay. While he is being careful. He checks how the world around him has changed, makes short rounds of his possessions and leaves fresh marks on the ground. Soon Archie will start updating the entrances to the burrow, sweeping the dirt out of the underground passages.

The groundhog can be seen in the street part of the enclosure in the morning and afternoon. He loves to bask in the sun.

Despite the fact that rodents go without food all winter, they are in no hurry to pounce on treats. Marmots continue to consume fat reserves, and only after five to seven days do they show interest in food. Since the digestive system takes time to resume work, Archie, Sarah, and Nagini’s diet includes exceptionally light foods in the spring – fresh salad and a mix of vegetables.

In the near future, the Moscow Zoo will also await the awakening of striped raccoons, chipmunks, raccoon dogs, bears, white-breasted hedgehogs and dormouse. Soon the zoologists will wake up the jerboas. The animals spent more than four months in special refrigerators.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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