About the size of a rabbit, prairie dogs are fast mammals
that dwell underground. They have a slick brown or clay-colored coat with
black-tipped hairs and a black-tipped tail. The underside of the prairie dog is
a light tan color. They have short legs and sharp claws to help them dig their
Prairie dogs are 12-15 inches in length with a
3-4 inch tail. Prairie dogs weigh 2-4 pounds.
United States and Mexico.
Prairie dogs are found primarily in prairies.
Prairie dogs eat grasses, roots, seeds and leafy plants.
Prairie dogs live in underground communities. They dig
tunnels and make a small mound around the entrance to the tunnel to prevent rain
runoff from entering their home. Their underground tunnels not only provide a
home but also protect them from predators. As many as 2000 prairie dogs may live
in one prairie dog town. They are active during the day above ground and sleep
in nests built underground at night.
Each female produces one litter annually after a gestation
period of 34 to 37 days. The average litter size is two to ten pups.
Typically, prairie dogs survive three to four years in the
wild, although they have been known to reach eight years in captivity.
Prairie dogs often compete with farmers for grazing land.
When in danger, prairie dogs will stand on their hind legs and alert the other
prairie dogs in the town by yelping. Natural predators of the prairie dog are
coyotes, badgers, ferrets, foxes, eagles and hawks.
*CITES, Appendix II, candidate species under the ESA.
*Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
Flora, an international treaty with more than 144 member countries. Appendix I
species cannot be traded commercially. Appendix II species can be traded
commercially only if it does not harm their survival.