Marmot Maxes Out the Cute-Meter After Meeting French Hiker

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: July 31, 2022
© Astrid Gast/
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You may be familiar with squirrels running about but what if you ran into a large, furry marmot on a hike? That is what a group of French hikers found when they were hiking in Haute-Savoie, France. But this was not just a brief sighting of a marmot scurrying away through the brush, the marmot stays and approaches the hikers. What happens next in the video is surprising! This marmot maxes out the cute-meter after meeting a French hiker.

Largest squirrels - Olympic Marmot
Marmots are the largest members of the squirrel family.

©Virginie Merckaert/

The video opens with a bearded man laying on his back on a grassy hill smiling. Laughter is heard in the background. Why is he smiling? A cute marmot is actually licking his face! Although he is smiling you can tell there is a mix of caution and disbelief in his wincing eyes. The large marmot continues licking the man, casually looking up every now and again. The bystanders continue to laugh and the man looks at the camera as if to say, “Is this really happening?!”

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Next, you see a panned-out shot of a cloudy mountain hillside in Haute-Savoie, France which is a region of the Alps, just SE of Geneva. The man starts narrating the story from the beginning. You can see three hikers on the hillside, two in the background comfortably sitting as they watch one of the hikers approaching a furry marmot about 2 feet long. The marmot does not turn and run away, it actually walks toward the hiker as if it was a pet greeting its owner. The marmot sniffs her hand and then is unimpressed and turns and walks a few steps away. The hiker reaches out and is able to pet the marmot! Meanwhile, the narrator is explaining how the marmot came out of nowhere when they came across this ridge.

Marmots are the largest members of the squirrel family. The one in this video is most likely an Alpine Marmot, one of 15 different kinds of marmots. In the United States we are familiar with the Groundhog which is one of the 15 marmot species. Alpine Marmots are very timid creatures and only live in high altitudes. They are burrowing animals, so they live underground for up to 80% of their lives. Marmots also hibernate a good portion of the year, sometimes 6 months or more. So you can see why seeing a marmot is a rare occasion. Having one come up to you and lick your face…extremely rare!

The video then introduces the narrator, Aurélien Chantrenne, who explains how the marmot came up to him when he was laying back on the hill, and it licked his hand first, then crawled up his side by his arm, and then started licking his face. The video shows from the beginning the interaction of the marmot crawling up to Aurélien. Remember that marmots have large front teeth, similar to beavers, and sharp claws for burrowing but Aurélien says “At no time was I afraid that she would attack me.” You can see that in his face, he is not a bit scared, but rather in awe of this amazing experience.

The marmot continued to lick the man in the face and even crawl on top of his face, totally unfazed until he rises up and casually crawls off the man and on its way. The man gradually leans up, looking straight at the camera with a look of delight on his face. What an experience. He quotes, “To think that ultimately humans are part of nature.”

This marmot maxes out the cute-meter!

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An Alpine marmot in the mountains shows its teeth
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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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