A yellow-bellied marmot that traveled in the undercarriage of a vehicle on a 1,250-mile trip to Minnesota has died despite the best efforts of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (WRC).
The WRC announced Monday the marmot didn't survive, with "damages from emaciation" proving fatal for the largest member of the squirrel family.
The WRC said emaciation can be very challenging to treat and "oftentimes it's just impossible to reverse what the loss of critical proteins does to the circulatory system and in consequence, organs."
The female marmot made the trip from Silverton, Colorado, all the way to Minnesota. She had crawled into the wheel well of the vehicle and "tenaciously clung" to the vehicle for 1,250 miles.
She suffered significant injuries on the unlikely journey, with the WRC documenting the animal's burns, abscesses and lead toxicity, also going five days without food or water.
It was the WRC's first opportunity to care for a marmot, as the rehab center called it a "once-in-a-lifetime case."
Yellow-bellied marmots are large ground squirrels that go by several different names, such as woodchuck, groundhog or whistle pig. As the Washington NatureMapping program notes, marmot are indigenous to southwestern Canada and the western United States, including the Rockies and Sierra Nevada mountains.