A Field Guide to the Prairie

Prairie Dog Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Cynomys ludovicianus
Length: 30 cm (12 in.)
Habitat/Range: They are found throughout the Great Plains, from southern Canada throughout most of western United States to New Mexico. They are native to the shortgrass prairie.
Eating Habits: Prairie dogs are diurnal animals and eat grasses and forbs.

Prairie dogs are tan colored, have large eyes and short, black-tipped tails. They are cousins of ground squirrels but get their name because of the barking-like sound they make. Adults weigh 0.5-1.4 kilograms or 1-3 pounds. They have strong claws for digging and big teeth for chewing.

Prairie dogs are very social animals and burrow long underground tunnels. They live in family groups called coteries. A burrow can be anywhere from 12 to over 100 feet long. A group of burrows becomes a prairie dog town. After prairie dogs leave, the towns become home to many other animlas like burrowing owls, hares, snakes, lizards, and the black-footed ferrets.

On the Prairie Field Guide Index

College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences
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