Cynomys ludovicianus

Range: USA (western plains), Mexico, and Southern Canada

Habitat: Grassy plains or prairies

Conservation status: Least concern

Black-tailed Prairie Dog

  • • Class: Mammalia: Order: Rodentia: Family: Sciuridae (squirrels)
    • The black-tailed is the most common of several species of prairie dogs
    • Social group is a coterie; young are kits
    • Live in “towns” of several hundred or as few as 10. (Largest reported town – 400 million)
    • Each of their burrows has 2 entrances--one higher than the other -- this maintains a natural flow of fresh air into the den.
    • Named for their barking alarm calls – scientists have identified 11 different barks or calls.
    • Integral part of prairie ecosystems. Have been called a keystone species because many other wildlife species interact or are dependent on them, some for food and some for shelter (black-footed ferrets; prairie rattlesnakes; eagles, badgers, weasels, burrowing owls)
    • Diet: grass and sometimes insects, such as grasshoppers
    • Predators: eagles, hawks, falcons, snakes, badgers, coyotes, and ferrets
    • Females have one litter of 3-5 kits per year in March or April. Newborns are altricial (blind, furless, helpless).
    • The holes created by the animals can pose a problem to horses not aware of their presence, and prairie dogs are not popular with ranchers.
    • Frequently exterminated from ranchland; often labeled a pest

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