Cynomys ludovicianusBlack-tailed Prairie Dog

Family

  • Sciuridae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 3 to 5 years
  • Captivity: 8 to 10 years

Size

  • Length: 12 to 17 inches
  • Weight: 1 ½ to 3 pounds

Range

  • Great Plains from Canada to Northern Mexico

Diet

  • Wild: Herbs and grasses
  • Zoo: High-fiber alfalfa cubes, yams, carrots, and hay.

Reproduction

  • Litters consist of 1 to 6 pups.
  • The pups remain in the burrows until they are 5 to 6 weeks old.

Prairie Dog pups

Interesting facts

  • The name "prairie dog" comes from its call which sounds like the yap of a small dog.
  • They are actually closest to the squirrel in relations.
  • They live in large colonies called towns, which are composed of small family groups of up to 20 members called coteries.
  • They live in an elaborate system of burrows, where they seek shelter from predators and severe weather.

Special adaptations

  • Prairie dogs communicate and strengthen their bonds through a series of vocalizations, playing, nuzzling, and grooming.
  • The family system helps them deal with predators more effectively too.
  • They will bite off tall plants around the burrows to see better.

Conservation status

  • CITES –Not listed
  • IUCN –Least concern
  • Humans have targeted this rodent with poison campaigns as agriculture and livestock ranching claims habitat previously used by the prairie dog.
  • The main threat, however, is the loss of habitat due to this agricultural expansion.

Sources

  1. Appendices I, II, and III of CITES. (February 5, 2015) Accessed January 2016. http://www.cites.org/eng/app/appendices.php
  2. Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed January 2016. http://www.eol.org/pages/311548/overview
  3. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (2015) Accessed January 2016. http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/search

Prairie Dogs