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What are prairie dogs?

Prairie dogs are ground squirrels noted for their highly social nature, large colonies, and "sophisticated vocal communication." There are five species, of which black-tailed are the most populous and the ones featured on this website. Although thought to be environmental pests through most of the 20th century, they are now considered a keystone species- that is they play a vital role in the health of their ecosystem. In their natural habitat they inhabit large areas called towns or colonies made up of several families called coteries.

Do prairie dogs hibernate?

No, prairie dogs do not truly hibernate like some of their cousins, groundhogs for example. However, the ones I watch will stay underground when it snows, and depending on the amount of snow and temperatures may stay underground for several days after that. I've had the luck to observe them during two mild winters, so I have not observed how much they would emerge, if at all, during a harsh winter.

Do prairie dogs drink?

Wild prairie dogs obtain all necessary moisture through their diet. However, I have observed individuals drinking from puddles and eating snow.

What kind of noise do prairie dogs make?

Prairie dogs were named for their high-pitched barks. They have a variety of barks/cries to warn others of various predators. They also chitter at each other during territorial disputes.


You can email me with questions or corrections at: questions [at] prairiedogyear.org

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