Recently, while hiking with his dog at North Cascades National Park in Washington, Cameron Herbolsheimer heard an unexpected sound. It was a high-pitched beeping sound, similar to that of a smoke alarm activating.
Even though Herbolsheimer was in the wilderness, miles from civilization, he was not totally sure that the sound was of natural origin.
“I believed it might have been an animal, but I wasn’t certain,” he told The Dodo.
Therefore, Herbolsheimer approached closer to determine the source of the piercing sound. And certainly:
No one ever told me about this♬ original sound – Cam Herbolsheimer
It turned out that the sound was coming from one of the region’s most recognizable residents: a marmot. The species, often known as whistle pigs, is distinguished by its high-pitched, shrill call. This was, however, news to Herbolsheimer.
“I have seen marmots before,” Herbolsheimer stated. “I had no idea they scream/whistle in such a manner.”
Even more intriguing, the marmot may have been “talking” about him that day.
If the marmot had seen Herbolsheimer and his dog in the distance, she could have deemed it prudent to warn her fellow marmots.
Biologist Daniel T. Blumstein noted in a paper on the topic, “These vocalizations are known as ‘alarm sounds,’ and marmots who hear them respond by instantly searching around and returning to their burrows if they are not already there.” When marmots see natural predators such as coyotes, foxes, and sometimes eagles and other large birds, they emit alarm calls. Depending on where marmots dwell and their familiarity with humans, marmots may emit an alarm call when they perceive a human.
Fortunately, neither Herbolsheimer nor his dog held any malice toward the boisterous animal. After that, he continued wandering around the area, his curiosity about the high-pitched sound having been satisfactorily satisfied:
“I was quite shocked to see marmots!” he exclaimed.