A warning cry, for example, will send a town's denizens hustling to their holes at the approach of a badger, coyote, or other predator. 2006). Major European Prairie Dog Associations, such as the Italian Associazione Italiana Cani della Prateria (AICDP), remain against import from the United States, due to the high death rate of wild captures. For coyotes, the prairie dogs move to the entrance of a burrow and stand outside the entrance, observing the coyote, while those prairie dogs that were inside the burrows will come out to stand and watch as well. The five species are: black-tailed, white-tailed, Gunnison's, Utah, and Mexican prairie dogs. [8] They also will eat roots, seeds, fruit, and buds. [18] A black-tailed prairie dog will stretch the length of its body vertically and throw its forefeet into the air while making a call. Gunnison’s prairie dog habitat occurs in four states—Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah (Hoogland 2006a; USFWS 2008). [7] Among the species, black-tailed prairie dogs tend to be the least sexually dimorphic, and white-tailed prairie dogs tend to be the most sexually dimorphic.

They have nursery chambers for their young, chambers for night, and chambers for the winter.

Within the SOPN, the species is known to have inhabited Pecos NHP (PECO); however, the habitat is no longer supportive of prairie dogs due to the encroachment of juniper and pinyon. Populations of this species occur in either higher elevations (referred to as montane populations) or lower elevations (referred to as prairie populations) (USFWS 2008). [12], A prairie dog town may contain 15–26 family groups. Cynomys parvidens.

[14] Females may try to increase their reproduction success by mating with males outside their family groups. Males play their part by defending the territories and maintaining the burrows. The historic range of the black-tailed prairie dog extended to the east, north, and south of the combined ranges of the white-tailed, Gunnison’s, and Utah prairie dogs (Hoogland 2006a). Other species, such as the golden-mantled ground squirrel, mountain plover, and the burrowing owl, also rely on prairie dog burrows for nesting areas. [14] The licking of genitals may protect against sexually transmitted diseases and genital infections,[14] while dust-bathing may protect against fleas and other parasites. However, according to writer Fred Durso, Jr., of E Magazine, "after years of asking ranchers this question, we have found not one example. In the CHDN, there was an attempt to restore prairie dogs at Guadalupe Mountains NP (GUMO), but it was unsuccessful (Sidle et al. They also protect the burrows from flooding. Territories have well-established borders that coincide with physical barriers such as rocks and trees. When hiding from predators, prairie dogs use less-deep chambers that are usually a meter below the surface. The prairie habitat occurs in the southwestern portion of the range— in southeastern Utah, southwestern Colorado, northwestern New Mexico, and northern Arizona; about 60-65% of the species’ current range consists of this habitat. Young pups are very playful and can often been seen romping near their burrows. Taking up residence close to small rivers, on sloping hills, or on flat grasslands, prairie dog colonies thrive by burrowing into a … The average prairie dog territory takes up 0.05–1.01 hectares. Most prairie dog family groups are made up of one adult breeding male, two to three adult females and one to two male offspring and one to two female offspring. If the alarm indicates a hawk diving toward the colony, all the prairie dogs in its flight path dive into their holes, while those outside the flight path stand and watch. Other animals benefit from their labors. [24], One common concern which led to the widespread extermination of prairie dog colonies was that their digging activities could injure horses[25] by fracturing their limbs.

[7] Although these two family groups are similar, coteries tend to be more closely knit than clans. [11] The subject of cooperative breeding in prairie dogs has been debated among biologists. Typically they cover less than half a square mile, but some have been enormous. Studies of black-tailed prairie dogs suggest that alarm-calling is a form of kin selection, as a prairie dog’s call alerts both offspring and nondescended kin, such as cousins, nephews and nieces. [12] Members of a family group inhabit the same territory. All rights reserved. [12] This causes the mother to go into estrus sooner. When fighting, prairie dogs will bite, kick and ram each other. Native to the Great Plains region of the United States between Canada and Mexico, black-tailed prairie dogs live in colonies on these grasslands. Supporters of the theory that prairie dogs are communal breeders state that another reason for this type of infanticide is so that the female can get a possible helper. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. [12] The entrance holes are generally 10–30 cm (3.9–11.8 in) in diameter. Density of black-tailed prairie dogs typically ranges between two and 18 animals per acre, depending on the region, season, and climate. They can be difficult pets to care for, requiring regular attention and a very specific diet of grasses and hay. According to Slobodchikoff, these calls, with their individuality in response to a specific predator, imply that prairie dogs have highly developed cognitive abilities. CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (, Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996, "Journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition, "7th September Friday 1804. a verry Cold morning, "Index Generum Mammalium: a List of the Genera and Families of Mammals", "Journal of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Tuesday July 1st 1806", "Prairie dogs increase fitness by killing interspecific competitors", "Cute prairie dogs are serial killers savaging ground squirrels", "Parentage, Multiple Paternity, and Breeding Success in Gunnison's and Utah Prairie Dogs", "Estrus and Copulation of Gunnison's Prairie Dogs", Slobodchikoff, C. N. (2002) "Cognition and Communication in Prairie Dogs", "Semantic information distinguishing individual predators in the alarm calls of Gunnison's prairie dogs", "Mammals of Texas: Black-tailed Prairie Dog", "Black-tailed prairie dog status and future conservation planning", "Public, mayor react to prairie dog poisoning at Elmer Thomas Park", "The Diary of Virginia D. (Jones-Harlan) Barr b.

[12], Perhaps the most striking of prairie dog communications is the territorial call or "jump-yip" display of the black-tailed prairie dog. Cynomys mexicanus [32] The disease was never introduced to any wild populations. [12] Prairie dogs with kin close by called more often than those that did not have kin nearby. Sometimes the entrances are simply flat holes in the ground, while at other times they are surrounded by mounds of soil either left as piles or hard packed. [12] The resident male of a territory defends it and antagonistic behavior will occur between two males of different families to defend their territories. Today, the species is thought to occupy 85,000 km2 (2.1 million ac) of habitat. It is possible that prairie dogs alert others to the presence of a predator so they can protect themselves. [28], Until 2003, primarily black-tailed prairie dogs were collected from the wild for the exotic pet trade in Canada, the United States, Japan, and Europe. All species hunker down in winter and burn the reserves of fat they have stored during more plentiful seasons.

During the 20th century, about 98 percent of all prairie dogs were exterminated, and their range subsequently shrunk to perhaps five percent of its historic spread. [11] They are then weaned and begin to surface from the burrow. [11][12] They do not perform these behaviors with prairie dogs from other family groups. [46], Prairie dogs in captivity may live up to ten years. The European Union also banned importation of prairie dogs in response. [17], Alarm response behavior varies according to the type of predator announced. Within the American Southwest, the black-tailed prairie dog is known to occur within or directly adjacent to several national park units. Even grazing species, such as plains bison, pronghorn, and mule deer have shown a proclivity for grazing on the same land used by prairie dogs. It presently occurs within El Malpais NM (ELMA), El Morro NM (ELMO), Chaco Culture NHP (CHCU), and Petrified Forest NP (PEFO), and it may occur at Aztec Ruins NM (AZRU), Hubbel Trading Post NHS (HUTR), and Mesa Verde NP (MEVE). These rodents do not gather in large towns but maintain more scattered burrows. Prairie dogs are chiefly herbivorous, though they eat some insects. In Mexico, prairie dogs are found primarily in the northern states, which lie at the southern end of the Great Plains: northeastern Sonora, north and northeastern Chihuahua, northern Coahuila, northern Nuevo León, and northern Tamaulipas. They also feature listening posts near exits, so animals can safely keep tabs on the movements of predators outside.

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