Prairie dogs live in underground burrows provide important protection. And burrows help prairie dogs control their body temperature (Thermoregulation) as they are 5–10 °C during the winter and 15–25 °C in the summer, Burrows have defined nurseries, sleeping quarters, and even toilets. They also feature listening posts near exits, so animals can safely keep tabs on the movements of predators outside.
Underground burrows which have a complex tunnel and they are arranged so as to allow air to flow through them providing ventilation.
Prairie dogs play a vital role in maintaining the prairie ecosystem. Their churning activities aerate the soil, allowing more water penetration, and their nitrogen-rich dung is a natural fertilizer which improves soil quality and vegetation.
About Prairie Dogs
Prairie dogs are highly social, living in large groups called “towns”. They co-operate to share food, protect their burrow and often groom each other. When group members meet each other they give them a prairie dog kiss or nuzzle.
Prairie dogs act together to ensure each others’ safety. While the group forages and maintains the burrows, one or more individuals act as a sentinel keeping watch for danger. Prairie dogs have a complex system of communication that includes a variety of pitched warning barks that signal different types of predators
They have specific calls for specific predators, and even have a specific alarm call for humans with a gun.
Characteristics of Prairie Dogs
Adult prairie dogs are 12 to 16 inches (30 to 40 centimeters) long and weigh 2 to 4 pounds (1 to 2 kilograms), with males slightly larger than females. Prairie dogs have short legs, sharp claws, a bark-like call and a need to chew. They have partially developed cheek pouches and tails covered with fur. The lifespan in captivity may reach 8 to 10 years.
Prairie dogs are chiefly herbivorous though they eat some insects. They also will eat roots, seeds, fruit, and buds. Grasses of various species are eaten.
Gestation: 33-38 days
Litter size: 3-4 pups average, range of 1-8
Young pups are born hairless with their eyes closed and are totally dependant on their mother’s care and love. They do not leave the burrow until they are about 7 weeks old