Prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) are strong social animals that belong to the family Sciuridae and reside in complex communities called ‘towns’ or ‘colonies’. These towns are further categorized into territorial neighborhoods or ‘wards’, which are comprised of coteries. These coteries are nothing, but family groups comprising of one male, one to four females and their young ones, till the age of 2 years. The entrances to these colonies are usually many, but the most recognizable burrow opening is encircled by a hard-packed mound of earth, reaching about 1 foot above the ground level. Currently, the species in found in about 10 states all over the world, which includes Oklahoma, New Mexico, Montana, Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, North Dakota, Nebraska and South Dakota. Unlike the other species of prairie dogs found world-wide, the black tailed prairie dog does not hibernate in the winter and can often be seen above ground level during mid-winter. To get some more interesting facts and amazing information on this unique species, read the pointers given below.
Facts About Black Tailed Prairie Dog
Binomial Name: Cynomys ludovicianus
Species: C. ludovicianus
Length: 14 to 17 in (36 to 43 cm)
Tail Length: 3 to 4 in (7.6 to 10 cm)
Weight: Approximately 1.5 to 3 lb (0.68 to 1.4 kg)
Life Span: 3 to 5 years
Diet: Herbivorous (nuts, seeds and plants)
Range: Great Plains to Utah and Arizona, Northern Mexico
Habitat: Short-grass prairies
Age of Maturity: 1 to 2 years
Gestation Period: About 30 days
Number of Offspring: One to six
Interesting & Amazing Information On Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs
- Five species of prairie dogs are found worldwide - Black-tailed Prairie Dog, White-tailed Prairie Dog, Gunnison’s Prairie Dog, Utah Prairie Dog and Mexican Prairie Dog. Among them, the latter two varieties are endangered.
- Black-tailed prairie dogs are not dogs at all. They are, actually, one of the members of the 2000 rodent species found all over the world.
- These prairie dogs are extremely susceptible to plague. At present, they are fighting against a disease called sylvatic plague. This is caused by a bacterium transmitted by flies.
- Black-tailed prairie dogs are generally tan in color. They have a lighter colored belly and a black tip on their tail. It is the least feature i.e. the black tip that has given them the name ‘black-tailed prairie dogs’.
- The majority time of these prairie dogs is spent in eating, visiting and grooming each other. They are most active during the cool hours of daylight.
- Black-tailed prairie dogs are highly threatened. In some states of America, shooting them is a sport. Hence, thousands of these animals are killed every year by hunting and trapping.
- Vegetables and seeds constitute around 98% of the diet of these prairie dogs.
- In captivity, these animals can live up to 8 to 10 years, as compared to the mere 3 to 5 years in the wild.
- Black-tailed prairie dogs play an important role in sustaining other prairie life. It is being estimated that more than 170 vertebrate species are affected by the prairie dog existence.
- These prairie dogs spend most of the summer hot days sleeping in their burrows and come above the ground only during the early mornings and evenings. However, in cool or overcast weather, they may remain above ground all day. Rainy weather often drives them to retreat underground.