prairie dog pet

An Encyclopedia on Prairie Dogs: From its Origin to Facts & Highlights

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Hey folks,How have you been? Today I am here with information about a new pet – Prairie Dogs. A pet that is cute as well as exotic. You might be thinking, how can a dog be an exotic pet? But wait who said it’s a dog? It’s just that the name has a dog in it. 

A bit confusing, right? Don’t worry. Read the blog for the complete information on the prairie dog pet. They are said to be the ecological animal supporting over 136 other species for survival through their various activities. Plus their litter also helps in fertilizing the soil.

Let’s start with a quick overview of this exo-pet,

Name: Prairie Dog

Scientific Name: Cynomys

Group: Rodents

Height: 12 inches to 16 inches

Weight: between 1 – 3 pounds

Life-Span: 5 years (approximately)

Characteristics: Intelligent, Tough, Bit Friendly, Socialized

Other Names: Barking Squirrel, Cynomys Gunnisoni, and Cynomys Ludovicianus

prairie dog pet

Origin

The Prairie dog is nothing but a ground squirrel and was first seen in North America. They are herbivorous borrowings rodents and are named ‘dog’ because of their warning call. Their warning call is similar to a dog’s bark, hence the name Prairie Dogs.

This name was in use from the early of 1774 and was discovered by Lewis and Clark in September 1804. There was a note in the journals that stated: “Lewis and Clark discovered a Village of an animal the French Call the Prairie Dog.” 

Even its scientific name, Cynomys has the origination from a Greek word that means “dog mouse.”

Also Read: Guinea Pig Breeds: Know About Their Types Today

prairie dog pet

Appearance

The physical appearance of this animal is undoubtedly cute. They are the furry animals, yes! The height goes up to 4 inches, and weight stays around one to three pounds. 

The mesmerizing characteristics of it will blow your mind; Prairie Dogs have black eyes, brown fur and short limbs with claws. As I said above, they aren’t dogs! They are classified into the same taxonomic group as squirrels and chipmunks. 

Their species are divided according to the tail color. So it gets easy to know which kind of prairie is in front of you. Right now, there are five different species of this barking squirrel, such as black-tailed prairie dogs, white-tailed prairie dogs, Utah, Gunnison’s and Mexican. 

prairie dog pet

Personality Traits

Prairies are social animals (not human, in a literal way!). They always live in a group, or you can say, family. They do have a FOMO (fear of missing out). If you aren’t able to spend time for a couple of hours a day, I would suggest you get a clan or else, stop thinking about having them.

They can get depressed or even sick if left alone. They are really amazing pets, no, no… Wait I will re-frame the sentence ‘they are really intelligent pets.’ yes! Now perfect. Though small and tiny pets they can be trained easily. 

You may get surprised, but they can be trained to come to you on calling them with the name given. They are mostly active during the day time. They have a very organized way of defending their homes.

prairie dog pet

Housing

This dog mouse lives in the area with a wide range of temperatures varying from extreme cold to remarkably hot. They are indeed known for the construction of burrows. You can say they are the best architects in constructing burrows.

Their burrow has a complex structure and different rooms designated for litter, eating, sleeping, and nurseries. The prairie burrow is 6 to 10 feet deep with numerous tunnels and entrances. They don’t live alone. They are always with the family consisting of two to four adult males, their respective females (more than four) and young ones.

prairie dog pet

Food Intake

You won’t have to worry much about the food for this exo-pet. They are mostly herbivores and feed only on vegetation. Sometimes they do eat insects, but they get nutrients from water and vegetation only.

It is always said that if you create the same atmosphere as their natural habitat, they will live long and safely. So, provide them with the food they eat in the wilderness, grass hays like timothy on a daily basis.

Don’t ever give them dog food, nuts or food items containing a high-sugar level, they can’t digest it and suffers from obese. Plus they are super active creatures and need enough exercise. Get a large running wheel for them to meet their needs for exercise.

Health & Care

As Prairie dogs are exotic animals, many health issues found in exo-pets are seen in them too, like they are prone to intestinal parasites and heart diseases. Dental issues are common among these barking squirrels.

In dental issues, they are susceptible to the development of odontomas, a benign tooth root tumor. This tumor can be a genetic component, but there are chances of odontoma formation due to the repeated biting of cage bars. 

These tumors can meddle in the nasal passage and can result in difficulty breathing. It’s better to consult a veterinarian, who specializes in treating the unique kind of animal (exotic pets). Take yearly health exams, dietary advice and understand the medical problems in detail.

Every year they go through a phase called the rut. That lasts for several months, and you will see the drastic change in the personality and behavior of the prairie dogs. It is noticed that they often get too defensive or aggressive.

prairie dog pet

Facts & Highlights

  • Scientists have seen the various barking patterns of the prairie dog and believe that they have several warning calls for every type of predator. For instance, you will see them barking differently when the predator is a hawk, coyote, and human.
  • The family of the Prairie’s is called coteries, and the number of coteries can make a ‘town.’
  • The clan of prairie dogs with the largest number of family members was found in Texas. It was estimated up to 400 million prairies were there in a single-family and covered one acre of land for the home.
  • Their burrows are used by many other animals as a home, such as snakes, badgers, rabbits, and weasels.
  • This creature stays in the burrows during winter and survives on the fat stored up during the summers. It is said that white-tailed prairie dogs hibernate for six months throughout the year.
  • An amazing and saddening fact. The amazing thing is, over 100 years ago, there were around 5 billion prairie dogs living on the Great Plains, and the sad thing is, their population has waned significantly. Over 98% of its population is diminished.
  • Prairie’s survival will help in saving the endangered black-footed ferrets. They make the food for the other species too.
  • Even prairies are an endangered species. Their survival is necessary as it plays an important role in the ecology system.

Prairie Dog Pet: A Pet With High Social Needs and Extremely Intelligent

This remarkably awesome and smart pet will win your heart with its jump-yips and other cute stuff. They are self-sufficient in defending themselves but always need attention. They are social creatures and will need your time every day. (Not the whole day but a couple of hours.) You will be able to avoid that if you get them in a group of two to three. And that is recommended. So what are you still looking for? You won’t get much lovable pet. If not as a pet at least visit them once, they will surely inspire you.

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Ruby Jennifer Author

Hi, I am Ruby Jennifer a blogger. The main motive to create this Petsnuturing.com site is that I want to share knowledge about Pets Information, Stories, Pet Breeds, and tips for grooming with all the pet lovers out there.