Black Tailed Prairie Dog - Blank Park Zoo

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Scientific Name:     
Cynomys ludovicianus           Prairie Dog
Class:                        
Mammalia                 
Order:                        
Rodentia       
Family:                       
Sciuridae      
Feeding Type:          
Herbivorous  
Range:                       
Great Plains to Utah and Arizona, Northern Mexico        
Habitat:                      
Plains, grassy habitat          
Diet in the Wild:        
Nuts, seeds, plants              
Diet at the Zoo:         
Commercial pellet food, also free feeding                               
Description:
These squirrel like rodents measure up to 16 inches in length and 48 ounces. They are generally brown or reddish brown on the upperparts and shading to white on the underparts. The whiskers and tail tip are black. Their body hair is tipped black in the winter but white in the summer.   
Adaptation/Behavior:
The basic prairie dog social unit is the coterie of 1 male, several females and their young. Several coteries form a ward and many wards form a township of up to 160 acres. Members guard their territories and burrows with an energetic “jump-yip” display, bared chattering teeth and fluffed-up tails. They are mainly diurnal.
Courtship/Breeding:
Prairie dogs breed rapidly, with up to 8 young born after a gestation period of 33 –38 days. The young are usually born in the months of March to May. Young prairie dogs will reach maturity at 15 months.
Conservation:
Today, the population of prairie dogs is fairly stable and they are at low risk. They are restricted to parks and reserves. In the past however, their eating habits led to massive destruction of wheat and other cereal crops, and their burrows tripped horses and farm stock. They were thus subjected to extermination campaigns, which were very successful.            

Interesting Facts

Our Animals

  • Since they were the main prey, their extermination in the past led to the threatened status of the black-footed ferret.

    When the Prairie Dogs were reintroduced into the Zoo in 2005, it took them about six months to eat all the vegitation that had regrown in their exhibit.

 

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