BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE DOG

Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Photo by Bob Gress

 

Black-tailed
Prairie Dog
Cynomys ludovicianus

Measurements:
Total Length: 14-17 inches
Tail Length: 2 - 4 inches
Weight: 1-3 pounds

  • Comments:   Black-tailed prairie dogs, named for their black-tipped tails and dog-like "bark," once lived throughout the Great Plains in "towns" that extended for miles and contained hundreds of thousands of individuals. Current dog towns seldom exceed 100 acres due to changes in land use and poisoning. They excavate a complex underground system of tunnels and rooms that may be as deep as 15 feet with horizontal tunnels reaching 10-15 feet long. The soil is pushed to the surface to create numerous mounds. They forage throughout the day with sentinels sitting upright, standing guard as others feed. When a predator is sighted, the sentinel "barks" and the entire colony scampers to their protective burrows. Abandoned burrows provide homes for spiders, salamanders, toads, ornate box turtles, snakes and burrowing owls. In the spring, females produce a single litter of 2-10 pups. They may live up to 8 years.
  • Distribution:   Black-tailed prairie dogs live on the High Plains from northern Mexico to southern Canada. They are found in shortgrass prairies and overgrazed rangelands of the western half of Kansas. 
  • Food:   Black-tailed prairie dogs feed primarily on green vegetation, including grasses, forbs, seeds, stems and the occasional insect.

Other Kansas Rodents

EASTERN CHIPMUNK ORD'S KANGAROO RAT 13-LINED GROUND SQUIRREL
WOODCHUCK AMERICAN BEAVER SOUTHERN FLYING SQUIRREL
PRAIRIE VOLE EASTERN FOX SQUIRREL EASTERN GRAY SQUIRREL
DEER MOUSE PLAINS POCKET GOPHER NORTHERN GRASSHOPPER MOUSE
EASTERN WOODRAT HISPID COTTON RAT WESTERN HARVEST MOUSE
COMMON MUSKRAT HISPID POCKET MOUSE NORTH AMERICAN PORCUPINE

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Mammal's Den
Text: George Potts and Bob Gress
Design: Jim Mason