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Prairie dog

Cynomys ludovicianus

Prairie dogs are rodents whose cry sounds like the bark of a dog (hence its name).

Prairie dogs live in prairies where they dig underground tunnel systems. They make small embankments around the openings. They dig and shove soil up to the openings when the soil is soft (usually after rains) and then “stamp” it in place with their nose.
The purpose of this earthwork is twofold: as an observation post and a dike against rainwater. The tunnel systems form large “towns” made up of many families, or coteries.
A coterie usually consists of 1 male, 3–4 females and up to 6 pups. The male dominates the females, but the females have no apparent fixed pecking order. Several families live within the same tunnel system. They live in groups of up to 50, known as wards.

The coterie members sniff, lick (kiss) and preen each other’s fur. This is how they learn to recognise each other.

Grass, seeds, leaves and flowers
North America
Life expectancy
27 years
1-2 kg
Gestation period
29-31 days
IUCN status
Least concern (LC)