Black-tailed Prairie Dogs are burrowing rodents of the squirrel family that are native to the grasslands of North America. The Black-tailed Prairie Dogs are tan color with small ears, strong legs with long claws and a 3 to 4 inch tail with a black tip.
The name “prairie dog” comes from a combination of their habitat and their behavior. They live in the grassy prairies and they make bark-like noises to alert other prairie dogs when a predator has been spotted.
Prairie dogs are highly social animals that live in large groups known as “towns.” Most prairie dog towns are smaller than one square mile but they can range up to hundreds of acres.
They are burrowing animals that create their shelter by digging complex tunnel systems. A prairie dog family lives in a burrow with multiple entrances. Nearby burrows are part of a neighborhood that is managed by a mature male.
Prairie dogs diet consists mainly of grasses but they will eat other plants depending on food availability during the year. Sometimes they clip vegetation to prevent predators from having places to hide. Most plants in prairie dog town do not grow higher than a few inches allowing prairie dogs to scan for danger across the entire town.
Prairie dogs spend roughly half of their time above ground monitoring for danger with numerous colony members on the lookout for predators at the same time. When danger is spotted they us a complex vocalizations to alert their neighbors to shelter in their burrows. Their system of barks alarm the others of the type and location of the threat.
The photos in this post were all taken at Caprock Canyon State Park near Amarillo, Texas. The prairie dogs are easy to see as the main road of the park runs through the middle of the prairie dog town and the prairie dogs are accustom to visitors. They stay in the open doing their daily activities unless they perceive a threat.
Location: Live in grasslands in North America.
Life Span: 8 to 10 years
Size: 16 inches long and weigh between 1.5 and 3 pounds.
Diet: Prefer grasses over flowering plants but will change their diets based on food availability and time of year.