The shagrat is a 1-meter-high (sheep-sized), woolly, almost capybara-like ground squirrel with shaggy ragged fur, descended from the marmot, native to such northern tundra as the North European Ice. It is the largest mammal of the northern tundra. They are herd animals, living in large herds, often huddling together for warmth and for predator protection. They have short, stalky legs and small ears to reduce heat loss.

Shagrat herds spend their winters at the northern edge of the birch and conifer forest away to the south, where Paris was back during the human days. At the end of the long winter, they migrate back to the edge of the northern ice sheets to reach their summer grazing grounds. The females give birth in early spring, following a gestation period which lasts throughout the winter. In the middle of spring, about a third of each herd consists of youngsters.

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