Andermatt + Sedrun + Disentis Schweiz
For outdoor freaks

Do you like nature, mountains, wildlife, and idyllic mountain lakes? Then we’re the right place for you! Identifying animal tracks in the snow, watching through binoculars as Alpine ibex forage for food, or finding glittering crystals. Nature lovers will feel right at home with us.

Wildlife reserves

Protection for wildlife at the ski resort
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The ptarmigans on Schneehüenerstock

It’s often possible to determine how a mountain got its name. The Weisshorn (in English, “white horn”) is covered with snow or ice, the Rothorn (“red horn”) has a rosy glow at dusk, and the Schwarzhorn (“black horn”) is wooded with dark cliffs. And the Schneehüenerstock?

The ptarmigan

Living on Schneehüenerstock – as well as on the other peaks of Andermatt+Sedrun+Disentis – are ptarmigans, whose name in German (“Schneehuhn”) translates literally as “snow goose”. The ptarmigan is an extraordinary bird, because it has a white coat during the winter, which is thicker than its brown summer coat and even covers its feet. The coat keeps its feet warm and also prevents the bird from sinking very far in the snow. Temperatures over 15 degrees are too warm for the ptarmigan, and it will retreat to shaded spots. But in the snow, it feels right at home. Ptarmigans dig holes in the snow, which they sleep in or retreat to when it gets too cold.

Protecting ptarmigans

If you set off outside the marked pistes, it may be that you’ll stumble into the habitat of ptarmigans. The ptarmigan thinks that it’s camouflaged and will stand fixed in the snow if your approach it. Also, its heart rate will go down sharply, it will hold its breath, and it will listen intently. Only at the last moment will it flee. Then its heart rate will skyrocket as it soars down the mountain emitting its typical call. This flight means great effort and exposure to cold, which results in an enormous loss of energy. We therefore ask you to respect the wildlife reserves , which offer valuable places for our wildlife to retreat.

Unghürstöckli

The ptarmigan also has a second name in German. Some people call it “Unghürstöckli”. That’s right, the name comes from “Ungeheuer”, the German word for “monster”. Why? Probably best to ask a local. Or prefer to find out for yourself?


Sources: Swiss Ornithological Institute and the “Natur & Freizeit” Association.