Close this search box.
Close this search box.
ai generate painting of a marmot

Wild Wires: Marmot’s Chewy Habits Cause Dashboard Dilemma

A sneaky marmot turned a family's car into its cozy den, causing a wild adventure on their road trip!

Last weekend, a man from Edmonton had a surprising encounter with a uniquely Canadian rodent: a marmot. The sly marmot took shelter under the hood of Vincent Bouchard’s car and made a meal out of some, thankfully, unimportant wires.

“I drove nine kilometers down the road with a marmot in my engine compartment,” Vincent Bouchard told CBC News.

He had been backpacking with his children for two days in Jaspar National Park and when they returned to the parked car on Sunday afternoon, they noticed something was wrong—the dashboard was lit up like a Christmas tree.

Despite the issue, they continued driving to get cellphone reception. Eventually, they pulled over at an intersection on Highway 93A between Banff and Jasper.

a marmot on the engine of car
A photo of the mischievous marmot under the hood Vincent Bouchard’s car near Jasper | Vincent Bouchard | CBC News

When Bouchard opened the hood, he got a big surprise. A marmot had stowed away in his vehicle. “There’s a big marmot right there sitting on my engine just looking at me, happy just being there,” said Bouchard. 

He called his kids over to witness the unusual sight, and they all had a good laugh. However, they faced a new challenge—how to get the marmot out of the engine.

Bouchard tried poking it with a stick, but the curious creature hid deeper inside. This put the marmot in a sour mood, causing the rodent to whistle.

When marmots are on guard, they make a loud whistling sound. They can also make chattering, clicking, and noises similar to a scream. 

Parks Canada was alerted, and they sent an employee to help. The first thing the employee did was spray the marmot with cold water to cool it down from the engine heat.

Then, someone from the wildlife conflict department arrived. After some effort, they managed to capture the cheeky marmot and put it in a cage, at least temporarily.

Unqualified For The Job

But the story doesn’t end there. When, Bouchard hit the road again, the dashboard lights started flashing once more.

After making some calls, he arranged for a mechanic to come and take a look. The mechanic discovered that the marmot had chewed and cut one of the wires. After fixing it up, the family finally headed home.

With all the wildlife-related delays, they arrived back in Edmonton around 11 PM, a whopping eight hours after their departure. Melanie Whalen, from Calgary Wildlife, shared that this situation is not uncommon, even in the city.

“We usually get a few marmots every year, at least that’s reported to us, that make it back to Calgary from the mountains…Every year actually, we get more and more cases of this happening,” said Whalen.

She added that marmots are attracted to minerals in the engine and the smell of ethylene glycol found in anti-freeze, which is toxic to animals.

Sometimes, this solution can drip onto wires, tempting marmots to chew on them. Anti-freeze may not sound appealing to us, but to marmots and other wildlife, the solution has a sweet flavor and aroma.

Whalen’s advice for anyone exploring Alberta’s beautiful nature is to check their engine after their adventure. You can try banging on the hood to scare the critter away, but if it doesn’t work, it’s best to call wildlife officials.

“They can be quite aggressive, so it’s always good to call a professional to come out,” recommended Whalen.

Share this story

Stories in your Inbox, daily or weekly

Choose the types of stories you receive.

Related Stories