Meet Austria’s young marmot whisperer. Eight-year-old Matteo Walch’s friendship with a clan of Alpine animals has spanned more than half his lifetime.

“When we come, they run straight to him,” said Matteo's mother, Michaela Walch, a mathematics teacher and amateur photographer.

The mother-and-son team have been traveling from their home in Innsbruck to Hohe Tauern National Park in Grossglockner to spend time with the large ground squirrels since Matteo was just 3 years old.

Like a horse whisperer or dog whisperer, the schoolboy has an uncanny ability to interact with the normally skittish wild animals — even greeting them nose to nose and having them climb in his lap.

“The first time we came, four marmots jumped on top of him and he was falling down, smiling and laughing,” said his mother.

Because Grosslockner is home to some of the world’s most stunning mountains, the marmots are accustomed to busloads of tourists attempting to feed them chocolates and cookies. But “they always keep their distance,” the 46-year-old single parent said.

“It’s different with Matteo; these pictures show how he is with the marmots and how they are so used to him,” she said. “He knows how to feel and manage every animal; I am very proud of how he acts with them.”

Matteo and his mom visit the marmots — about two dozen individuals split between two or three interlinked groups — for two weeks every summer and spend many hours with them every day.

Before becoming a mother, Michaela traveled to such exotic destinations as Alaska, Ethiopia and Israel to photograph wildlife. But, she now sticks closer to home and takes her son on the shoots he enjoys.

The amateur photographer said she always abides by her philosophy that “one has to understand the animals before one can take pictures without disturbing them.” She joked that she will only photograph animals that “want to be photographed,” — a time-consuming effort that yields the best images.

“The picture of a curious animal approaching me is a thousand times more beautiful than the picture of any animal looking at me in fear just before it takes off in flight,” she said.

When photographing Matteo and his marmot buddies, she said, “I want to show the harmony between the boy and the animals.”

Written by Jennifer Carlile Via

Responses to "Furry Friends: 8-Year-Old Has Uncanny Way With Marmots"

  1. is Matteo great soul .... panet is blessed with his present....

  2. Anonymous says:

    That's just wonderful!
    I envy him, what a fantastic experience :)

  3. Unknown says:

    WOW... thass totally awwsome... he is already a wargh... he will grow up to be a skin changer... :P

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lovely. Schön.

  5. Anonymous says:

    They say people like that are actually angels walking the earth. He is a special boy!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Who says he is an angel walking the earth. This isnt uncommon. Thats blasphemy to say an 8 yr old is an angel. Get your heads out of the said. Its a cute story and thats it. Thier probly leaving out the fact hes autistic or something.And wtf is a wargh. Dont be a fruit cake. Skin changer? Can't wait for Jesus to come straighten out all you lost souls.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Even though marmots are known to make good pets, those are wild marmots and the boy has a rare gift. Those pictures are touching and heart-warming. I feel sorry for the anonymous commentator above who badly needs his Jesus to come and straighten out his soul – if he has one to being with.

  8. Anonymous says:

    awesome comment my anonymous friend above

  9. Anonymous says:

    The animals sense he has a special soul towards them.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I expect this boy will better protect the animals of this earth than the "Christian" above. What would jesus say to that? This boy is anther wonderful gift from this Mother, the Earth.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The Indigenous People have a prophecy that a change is coming in the human race toward greater peace and harmony with Nature. I am hoping that his boy is indicative of that change. I want to live long enough to see the wonderful new world that is being born! - Kathy Niell

  12. Unknown says:

    So wonderfull<3<3<3

  13. Anonymous says:


  14. Anonymous says:

    To the one that said I was being need to read your bible better. Specifically look up Genesis 19:1-29 and Hebrews 13:2. All Angels can take on the appearance of a human when the mission callas for it. Also you may want to look up incarnate angels. They are in the bible as well..and guess what they are reborn human! I pray that Jesus guides you to see the truth. Everyone should be polite to everyone else. You may even have entertained an angel in your house unaware.

  15. Anonymous says:

    To Anonymous that says he is an angel on earth; I completely agree with you. Angels come in all shapes, sizes, and ages; for someone to say that your statement is blasphemous is a very poor Christian and has a complete misunderstanding of the Bible. Few people are blessed with the gift of young Matteo and I'm so happy that this story was posted.

  16. Ruth says:

    How endearing and delightful. She must be so proud of her son. He is a truly remarkable boy. Thanks White Wolf <3

  17. Anonymous says:

    This Boy Is Gifted With An Inner Sense That Certain Animals Also Sense In Within Him!! Really Great Pictures!!

  18. It is really nice to see the boy is able to mix with these wild animals to the degree that he does--it's

  19. Anonymous says:

    There are many people like him. But there are no stories about them...

  20. Unknown says:

    loved this story and the pictures he is a special child

  21. Anonymous says:

    such a nice story love it!

  22. Doris says:

    I live near the aera and have been there many times - also saw the marmots. What a gift and beautiful pictures! Thank you.

  23. Jerry/ Wolfwarrior says:

    I have been in marmot country many times but could never get anywhere near them, and found them to be very "skittish". This boy is absolutely gifted to be able to interact with them and I would not dare to question the source of this gift.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Maybe he is one of the indigo children

  25. Anonymous says:

    He has something none of us has. Animals sense something in him. His soul is displayed to them.

  26. Henri says:

    Lovely pictures. Then why do some individuals need to bring their religious propaganda around? Please, Jesus freaks, give us a break! And just for your information, angels can be found in other spiritualities too. They are not the property of intolerant christian bigots.

  27. Beautiful pictures, thank you for sharing them :)

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