Praire Dogs

The prairie dog is a small, burrowing rodent native to the grasslands of North America. On average, this stout-bodied rodent will grow to be between 12 and 16 inches long. They are found in the Western United States, Canada, and Mexico.

The are a few speices that we will discuss together:
Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Gunnison's Prairie Dog, Cynomys gunnisoni
White-tailed Prairie Dog, Cynomys leucurus
Black-tailed Prairie Dog, Cynomys ludovicianus
Mexican Prairie Dog, Cynomys mexicanus
Utah Prairie Dog, Cynomys parvidens

Prairie dogs are highly-social animals that live in large colonies also called "towns". These towns can span many acres of land. Families tend to consist of one male and 2 to 4 females, though some consist of multiple males and females or just a single creature.

The praire dog towns tunnels have separate rooms for sleeping, eating, babysitting, and just sitting. Prairie dogs are also known to control the populations of several weed species, such as mesquite, which has been found to overrun some lands where prairie dogs are no longer found.

The prairie dog is well-adapted to predators. Using its dichromatic color vision, it can detect predators from afar and then alert other prairie dogs to the danger with a special, high-pitched call. Prairie dogs also trim the vegetation around their colonies, perhaps to remove any cover for predators. Their burrows generally also generally contain several routes of escape.

The prairie dog is primarily a herbivor. Prairie dogs feed on grasses and in the fall broadleaf forbs. They have up to 4 pups yearly, which are born blind and furless and need about 30 days of close nurturing by their mother.

Praire dogs are the primary diet of the Black-footed Ferret. They are also preyed apon by the Swift Fox, the Golden Eagle, the Badger, and the Ferruginous Hawk.

Despite their ecological importance, prairie dogs are frequently exterminated from ranchland, being labelled as a pest because they are capable of damaging crops and their burrows can break the leg of a horse.

For these reason landowner often encourage varmit hunters to hunt their land. The main draw for the varmit hunters is to test their shooting skills as long range shooting at such a small target can be quite a challenge.

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