Prairie Dogs

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Gopher eating food

Prairie Dog Information

Prairie dogs are burrowing rodents found primarily in the southwestern United States. Prairie dogs are squirrel-like rodents that grow to be around 1-3 lbs. These creatures subsist off of primarily plants and vegetation as well as some small insects. To protect themselves from severe cold or hot weather, prairie dogs will dig burrows below the ground.

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What does a Prairie Dog look like?

Growing an average of 12 inches long and weighing between 1.5 and 3 pounds, prairie dogs are short, squat mammals with stumpy legs and round heads. Their coats are typically tan or light brown, and they have a habit of standing upright to survey the surrounding landscape for signs of danger. Prairie dog communication is made up of high-pitched barks, which some biologists believe to be second in complexity only to human language.

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What does a Prairie Dog eat?

Prairie dogs keep diets that consist largely of grasses, roots, and seeds. They also enjoy prickly pear fruit and flowers. When scavenging for food, prairie dogs typically graze near their personal burrows and do not venture very far.

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Prairie Dog habitats

Wide open grasslands and prairies are favored habitats of the rodents. Since they rely on being able to constantly scan the horizon and sky for danger, prairie dogs tend to avoid areas with dense brush or large amounts of tree cover. Their burrows can become incredibly large, with individual tunnels reaching over 15 feet long and extending more than 6 feet below the surface.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Comparing prairie dogs vs. gophers will also turn up quite a few differences. For example:

Prairie Dogs:

  • Are social and live in large groups.
  • Leave their burrows to seek out food.
  • Are carriers of the plague, which can be transmitted to people.
  • Prairie dogs are typically larger at about fourteen to seventeen inches in length, with buff-colored coats.

Gophers:

  • Live alone, except during breeding season.
  • Forage underground for food.
  • Rarely carry diseases that affect humans.
  • Medium-sized rodents, gophers are roughly five to fourteen inches in length with fine fur that can range from brown to white.