You’re not in Queensland now, Dorothy

Raised hut in ZermattIn Queensland, some houses are built off the ground, on stilts. This allows for a breeze to cool down the houses, and every degree helps in such a tropical place. So why on earth are there so many huts in Zermatt that are raised off the ground? Being 1,620 metres from sea level and miles from the equator, Zermatt doesn’t really have a reputation as a tropical haven, yet these huts are dotted around town like ants outside their nest.

A local explained all. The huts are used to store animal feed and sometimes animals during the cold months. One hut we saw had sheep wool hanging out its open slat windows and the local said the sheep had been in there until recently. But that doesn’t explain why the huts are raised off the ground. Apparently, Zermatt has had a rodent problem, so the huts were built off the ground — and often with stone at the base — to prevent the rodents from climbing up into the sheds that stored feed and eating it. The huts are still used to store feed to this day, so they’re obviously doing their job well.

Others have told me that the gap allows snow underneath, for insulation or in case of avalanche, but I don’t see how a hut would survive an avalanche, and I’m not convinced that the ground is any less insulating than a layer of snow. The internet is proving very unhelpful in finding out any more, so please do let me know if I’ve got this all wrong.


I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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3 comments on “You’re not in Queensland now, Dorothy
  1. It is perfectly possible, but rodents would just climb up the supports I think. Animals yes…the German Alps try to “accomodate” their animals right next door to the human living area, both for the warmth and for the “methane gas” use. Smells better than some bedrooms after cassoulet evenings…..!
    Right now, the only “rodents” are the Café owners with their plastic cups of coffee at prices….well…….kinda’ …..high…!

  2. Wendy says:

    Yeah, many of the farmers in the Aravis still live about their cow shed. Agreed about the rodent café owners too!

  3. Jayne says:

    I saw an article in a magazine a couple of years ago about these ‘mazots’ builts on stilts with the large round stones. I think it was to stop rodents or any other critter climbing up and getting at the feed/precious docs/paperwork. And off the ground to allow air to circulate under to keep things as fresh as possible and not rot/mildew. If I can find the mag I’ll let you know.

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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