What kind of animal is a prairie dog? Explanation of characteristics, ecology, habitat, and breeding


What kind of animal is a prairie dog? We will explain its characteristics, ecology, and habitat. Prairie dogs are also popular pets as some people keep them. It is a member of the ground squirrel family found in North America, and is very cute, so it has received a lot of attention from many people.

What is a prairie dog? About basic status

Prairie dogs are mammals in the order Rodentia, family Squirrel, and genus Prairie Dog. The scientific name is Cynomys. Body length: 30-38cm, tail length: 8-10cm, weight: 1-2kg. It is a member of the ground squirrel family that is distributed in North America.

English(英名)Prairie Dog
scientific name(学名)Cynomys 
classification(分類)Mammalia、  Rodentia、Sciuridae、Cynomys

About classification

Prairie dogs belong to the genus Prairie Dog, but there are actually many subspecies. I will introduce each of them.

Scientific name
black-tailed prairie dog
Cynomys ludovicianus
white-tailed prairie dog
C. leucurus
Mexican prairie dog
C. mexicanus
Gunnison’s prairie dog
C. gunnisoni
Utah prairie dog
C. parvidens

Cynomys ludovicianus

The black-tailed prairie dog is the most abundant of the common species. This species does not hibernate and has white fur. They are well known for creating “towns”, which are collections of burrows underground. It is distributed in the grasslands of central North America, and is about the size of a domestic cat, with a brown, tan, or grayish brown back.

C. leucurus

As the name suggests, the white-tailed prairie dog has a white tail. Preferring high mountains, they do not build large burrows and live over a wide area. In winter, they hibernate and eliminate ground squirrels for food security. The population is very stable.

C. mexicanus

Mexican prairie dogs are found only in Mexico (Coahuila, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and Nuevo Leon). It has a head and body length of 28-35cm and lives in grasslands at an altitude of 1,600-2,200m. It has been exterminated as a pest and is designated as an endangered species.

C. gunnisoni

The Gunnison prairie dog is a prairie dog that lives in states such as Colorado and Arizona in the United States, and its population is very stable. Gunnison prairie dogs shed their coats twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. In spring, they begin to shed their skin from head to tail. The eyes are located on the sides of the head, giving you a wide peripheral vision.

C. parvidens

Utah Prairie Dogs are extremely rare and endemic to Utah. The fur is multicolored, consisting of black, brown, and dark brown tips. Their faces have dark brown cheeks and a whitish color around the chin and mouth. Unfortunately, it is listed as an endangered species.

Where is its habitat?

As mentioned above, prairie dogs are quite widely distributed from the United States to Mexico.

feature is? What kind of creature is it?

Prairie dogs, like members of the squirrel family, have short limbs. There are considerable differences depending on the species, with some inhabiting open grasslands and savannahs, and others inhabiting mountainous areas. Unusual among the squirrel family, they live in large groups, with males being larger than females. They are active during the day and hibernate in the winter. During the winter when the temperature drops, they live in burrows.

What is your personality like?

Prairie dogs are sociable and gentle. In addition, they are highly social animals as they can live in groups. He is also said to have good communication skills. They are very territorial and will attack any enemy that enters their territory.

What is the ecology like?

Prairie dogs live by eating leaves and stems of plants. The nest is made by digging a hole in the ground, forming a vast burrow, which they hide in during the winter. They are polygamous and the breeding season is from January to April. It is possible to give birth to 1-6 cows at a time. The lactation period is 30 to 50 days, and they reach maturity in 1 to 2 years. The lifespan is said to be about 3-5 years.

Are there any natural enemies?

Prairie dogs are preyed upon by coyotes, badgers, and lynx. For this reason, prairie dogs are very wary and always keep watch around their burrows. They are called prairie dogs because their barks resemble those of dogs, as they let out a sharp cry to alert their friends when danger approaches.

Are prairie dogs an endangered species?

Unfortunately, prairie dogs are listed as an endangered species. The Mexican Prairie Dog and the Utah Prairie Dog are particularly dangerous and are listed in CITES, meaning their international trade is severely restricted.

Extermination as a pest

Due to extermination as a pest, their population has decreased significantly. This is often retaliated against by farmers, as prairie dogs dig large underground tunnels that damage pastures and crops. Because they dig holes, they are often considered pests.

Can prairie dogs be kept?

Prairie dogs can be bred. However, please be careful of the following points.

Has a distinctive odor

Prairie dogs are very smelly when raised, so be careful. When they are nervous or stressed, their scent glands emit a smell. Also, no matter how much you train your child to use the toilet, he will never remember.

It is best to keep 2 or more dogs.

It is best to keep two or more. Prairie dogs do not travel alone; they form groups. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep multiple animals when breeding them.

Special pellets are recommended for bait.

We recommend special pellets and hay for prairie dogs. It also contains a good balance of nutrients. As for hay, there are products available online that are specifically designed for prairie dogs.

It is advisable to keep them in a cage.

Prairie dogs are active animals and move well, so it is preferable to keep them in cages. The ideal temperature for prairie dogs is 20-22 degrees. Use an air conditioner or heater to keep the temperature above 15 degrees.

I have a disease that I’m susceptible to

Prairie dogs are prone to odontomas, liver disease, hepatitis, and fatty liver disease. A prairie dog’s incisors continue to grow throughout their life. Incisor teeth may break and no longer grow through the gums. This can lead to illnesses that cause breathing difficulties and symptoms such as rhinitis. Prairie dogs also have weak livers, so take them to the vet as soon as possible.


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