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Tourist vs. Marmot in Rocky Mountain National Park (It Didn’t Go Well)

A tourist got much too close to a marmot in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park, and according to those who witnessed the moment, it didn’t go so well. The @touronsofnationalparks Instagram account shared a photo of the woman as she extended her hand to the animal, presumably to let it sniff her before giving it a pet.

The caption reads “it scratched her right after.” Whoops.

Marmots are large rodents that live in some areas of North America and Eurasia. You could also call them “giant ground squirrels,” since they can weigh up to 15.4 pounds, with bodies nearly two feet long. There are 14 species worldwide, including yellow-bellied marmots, which live in the Rocky Mountains of the United States.

They can be pretty cute, but you shouldn’t pet them.

According to the USFWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), yellow-bellied marmots are hosts to a variety of diseases, “some of which may be directly or indirectly transmitted to humans; for example, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (Rickettsia rickettsii; Cockrum 1997) and sylvatic plague (Yersinia pestis; Nelson 1980).”

Hopefully this tourist came away with nothing more than a scratch and a life lesson:

Have you seen visitors make questionable decisions in national parks?

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