Black-tailed prairie dog

Black-Tailed Prairie Dog

Cynomys ludovicianus

Animal Class: Mammals

Length: 14-17 inches

Weight: 2 1/2 – 4 pounds

Lifespan: 9 years

Diet: Wild: plants, occasionally insects, and rarely meat.

Habitat: Black-tailed prairie dogs live in the shortgrass prairies in the western US. Specifically, they can be found in eastern Montana and southwest North Dakota south to northwest Texas, New Mexico, and extreme southeast Arizona.

Description: Black-tailed prairie dogs have small rounded ears that lay close to the head. They have cheeks pouches similar to other rodents. Their short fur is yellowish tan in color with paler colors under the chin and on the belly. The tip of the tail is black. Prairie dogs will often greet each other by touching noses and then turning their heads sideways to touch incisors. This is a gesture of recognition. Prairie dogs are very vocal and if a predator is spotted, the guard dogs will emit a staccato double-noted call consisting of a chirp followed by a wheezing sound that is accompanied by tail flicking. When the alarm is sounded, all prairie dogs will dive for the nearest burrow entrance. When the coast is clear, the prairie dogs also have an all clear signal. They will leap up, throw their head back, and gives a wheezing, whistling “yip”.

Our Animals: The Zoo has a colony of prairie dogs that varies in size.