Prairie Dog Blog

prairie dog biology research

What exactly are prairie dogs anyway? December 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lorensackett @ 16:05

Prairie dogs are a group of fossorial (burrowing) ground squirrels (family Sciuridae) that live in large colonies.  They are most closely related to marmots and other ground squirrels, and they are split into five species:  black-tailed prairie dogs (the most widespread and social species; Cynomys ludovicianus), Mexican prairie dogs (found in only a small region in Mexico; C. mexicanus), white-tailed prairie dogs (C. leucurus), Gunnison’s prairie dogs (C. gunnisoni), and Utah prairie dogs (C. parvidens).

Juvenile black-tailed prairie dog ready to submerge into its burrow if I get any closer

Adult white-tailed prairie dog, with painted markings for individual recognition, looking up towards our observation tower from outside its burrow

Prairie dogs are commonly, but mistakenly, referred to as gophers, which are mouse-like rodents in the family Geomyidae (e.g., see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Geomys_bursarius.jpg).  Pocket gophers are more highly fossorial than prairie dogs, and spend almost all of their time underground.  They are also solitary, and males interact with females only during mating. (more…)

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