For nature lovers, the marmots on the Gornergrat are a special highlight. The area around the Matterhorn village is home to around 1,000 “mormunde”, as the people of Zermatt affectionately call them. They are about half a metre tall and have a tail length of 115 mm.
On 19 March, St Joseph’s Day, the marmots come out of their burrow. At least that’s how a popular saying in Zermatt goes. The marmots wake up from their hibernation and explore the spring world.
After the long winter, they feed on the first herbs, grasses and flowers and warm their bodies in the spring sun. In winter, their body temperature drops to 5 degrees and their little hearts only beat around 20 times a minute. In summer, it’s 200 beats a minute.
Marmots are intelligent creatures. They are currently moving their habitat closer and closer to people. This has the advantage that they are slightly safer from natural enemies such as foxes and eagles. However, if there are predators on the way, the marmots whistle to warn their colony. Then you can see their long, yellow incisors.
On the Gornergrat, they are often found on the Riffelberg and on the Riffelalp. They like to settle near the mountain railways, on footpaths, beside the railway and near settlements.
If you sit quietly and don’t move, you can watch the marmots live their family life just outside their nests. But you shouldn’t feed the animals.
In addition to the Blacknose sheep (Verweis Geschichte 119) and ibexes, Zermatt has other animals that make visitors’ hearts beat faster.