Prairie dogs have four sharp teeth, golden brown fur, powerful short legs and arms, a four inch tail, and are about a foot tall when standing.
Despite their doggy name, prairie dogs are members of the squirrel family. These ground-dwelling squirrels dig a complex series of tunnels deep into the ground -- called a town. Hundreds of prairie dogs live together in towns that can cover hundred of acres of land. One town discovered in the 19th century was as big as Belgium. All the town members feed on the grasses, roots, leaves and flowers that grow nearby. They don't drink a lot -- these creatures get all the water they need right from the plants they eat. It's a good thing -- the prairie can be a dry place. Prairie dogs depend on each other and their burrows to survive. Deep beneath the earth they're safe from prairie fires, coyotes, man, and hawks.
Prairie dogs don't just let any stranger into their homes, so they "kiss" and "hug" when they meet to identify each other as family. No two burrows are alike. Prairie dogs dig tunnels as deep as fifteen feet deep, and make sure they have enough room for everyone in the family. Each tunnel is unique, but all burrows have an entrance, an exit, rooms for nesting, and a "flood room" -- a room dug into the ceiling at the bottom. If the burrow fills with water, the flood room forms a pocket of air for waiting until the water drains away. Members of a prairie dog town take turns keeping watch. If the watch dog sees danger, they sound an alarm call by stretching their heads into the sky and barking. No wonder they got the name "little dogs" by early settlers. An alarm call sends all of the prairie dogs into the burrow to hide until the coast is clear.
Many farmers and ranchers have a problem with prairie dogs on their land. The purpose of this page is to introduce non-lethal ways to deal with problems like this. I have found a good link to a special repellant that is used to repel prairie dogs and other nuisance wildlife. Click here to find out about predator urine. Also, the ways to control prairie dogs non-lethally are similar to the ways to control squirrels in the same respect. Click here to find out how.
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