Austrian Teen Develops Uncanny Bond with Alpine Marmots

Marmots are usually shy and don’t like interacting with people, but a colony of Alpine marmots in Austria has taken a liking to a teenage boy who has been visiting them ever since he was three years old.

Matteo Walch, a 14-year-old boy from Innsbruck, first made international news headlines back in 2012, when photos of him literally rubbing noses with marmots from a colony in Groslocker , in the Austrian Alps, went viral. He was eight-years-old at the time, but he had been visiting his furry friends every year since age three, and for some unknown reason they had taken a liking to him. The boy’s mother, who took the pictures of Matteo and the marmots, says that the large rodents are not afraid of him because they understands that he loves them and would do nothing to hurt them. Six years after wowing the world with his uncanny bond with marmots, Matteo Walch still visits his cuddly friends and they are closer than ever.

Photo: Story Trender

“He is quite different from the other children in that he moves quite slowly and is patient with them. He is always very calm and they seem to like that,” Matteo’s mother, Michaela, told Caters News. “I think because he was so young when they first met and they were the first wild animals he saw in real life, they will always have a special place for him.”


Groslocker marmots are quite popular with tourists, so it’s not that uncommon to see the large rodents get relatively close to humans in hopes of receiving a snack, but they won’t let people get too close. With Matteo, they don’t even need a reward, the boy’s mother says, they just come up right up to him and let him pet them. It’s definitely not the kind of interaction you see every day, that’s for sure.

Even though Matteo’s appearance has changed drastically since he first started visiting the marmots at Groslocker, they apparently recognize him instantly whenever he arrives and flock to him as if to greet an old friend.


“Even as he gets older he never gets bored of visiting, he is always asking me when we can go and see them again,” Michaela said. “They have a really special connection.”