Prairie dogs are a type of squirrel, not dogs as the name would suggest. Three species live in Colorado; the black-tailed prairie dog, the white-tailed prairie dog and Gunnison’s prairie dog. These species are identifiable by their respective black, white and gray tails. They are smaller than marmots, but larger than any other short-tailed ground squirrels.
Prairie dogs are 16 to 20 inches long and may weigh up to two pounds in the fall, when they are the heaviest. Predators include badgers, coyotes, hawks, eagles and black-footed ferrets. Their burrows are up to 13 feet deep and 80 feet long with one or more volcano-shaped entrances. Some prairie dog “towns” can cover several hundred acres, distinguished by hundreds of the volcano-shaped entrances, and noisy territorial barking. Prairie dogs eat grasses and other vegetation, sometimes causing rangeland damage.
White-tailed and Gunnison’s prairie dogs are deep hibernators, but black-tails in Colorado simply go dormant in cold winter weather and arouse to feed in warm spells. Prairie dogs mate in early spring and have two to ten pups after a gestation period of four to five weeks. Prairie dogs have been known to carry fleas and fleas can carry the plegue. Having the animals removed or treated will help keep many pets and people safe when these animals start to live to close to housing developments.
Call Critter Gitterz for ways we can help with any size prairie dog town.