ANIMAL: Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Cynomys ludovicianus Type of Animal: Squirrel Habitat: Grasslands, shortgrass prairie, mixed-grass prairie, mid-grass prairie, sagebrush steppe, plains, areas near rivers/creeks, benches/terraces adjacent to floodplains/creeks/rivers, flat areas, rolling hills, badlands, playa lake slopes/surrounding areas, areas near reservoirs, areas near cattle salting grounds, sagebrush grassland, cattle trail/road areas, areas near river flats, coulee bottomlands w/ sagebrush/greasewood/prickly pear, agricultural areas, sparsely vegetated shrub-short grassland areas dominated by western wheatgrass/blue grama/sagebrush, sand prairie, saltbush shrubland, desert, savanna Location(s): Canada: S Saskatchewan/S Alberta, US: Montana, Wyoming, Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, W Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona; Mexico: parts of Chihuahua/Sonora, Mexico. Appearance: Tan to light brown compact-bodied rodents w/ small ears, short black tipped tails, whitish/buff-white belly, broad head Food/Diet: Forbs, flowering plants, grasses, weeds, herbs, hay, flowers, vegetables, greens, leaves, shrubs, fruit, seeds, stems, roots, tender shoots, sedges, peanut butter, berries, insects, insect larvae, burrowing owl eggs/new hatchlings Status in Wild: Stable Conservation: Breeding in zoos & wildlife centers. Reintroductions into parts of range. Protection of important prairie dog habitat. Reduction in conflicts between prairie dogs and people. Lifestyle: Towns range from 400-100,000 members (larger towns sometimes called cities & one city in Texas had around 400 million prairie dogs covering around 25,000 sq mi). Towns divided into wards-wards have 2-10 coteries. Each coterie consists of 1-2 males (if more than 1 male, they’re related) & 1-18 females plus any offspring. Wards can range from 4-190 adults. Additional Info: Called: Male: Boar/Buck/Dog Female: Sow/Bitch/Doe Young: Pup Group: Town/City/Colony/Coterie/Ward Weight: Male: 1.87-3.69 lbs Female: 1.55-2.31 lbs Young: 2 oz Gestation: 5 weeks Life Span: 3-4 years in wild, 7-8 years in captivity Height: Male: 1.17-1.36 ft Female: 1.15-1.23 ft Body Length: Male: 1.17-1.36 ft Female: 1.15-1.23 ft Tail Length: 3-4 in, same for both sexes Fun Fact(s): Main predators are mustelids, canids, felids, raptors, snakes, ravens, & bears. Each coterie fiercely defends territory of 1/2-1 acre in size (fights between neighbors sometimes result in death). Wards may range from 0.5-10 acres. Towns range from 24-10,000 acres. Towns most recognizable by mounds/holes at burrow entrances. These holes/mounds are 1-3 ft in diameter. 7-15 ft deep burrows connected by tunnels consisting of many chambers. Tunnels 3-6 ft below surface, being about 15 ft long. Burrows often have 2 entrances. Burrows have defined nurseries/latrines/sleeping quarters. Prairie dog towns/burrow systems don’t just support prairie dogs but also other small mammals, snakes, & ground-dwelling birds, among many others. While common, before the 1800s, there may have been over a billion prairie dogs. Populations plummeted in the 1800s & 1900s due to poisoning, persecution, & habitat alteration. Seen as pests since they feed on much of the same food livestock feed on & livestock can injure themselves if they step in prairie dog holes (especially broken legs).