21 Facts About Prairie Dogs You Must Know!

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They live out there, in the wilderness, looking like a squirrel, but called ‘dogs.’ North America is their homeland, and they belong to the gnawing animals category. Don’t be fooled by their looks or title, because they are extremely smart, and they are NOT Meerkats! They are called 'dogs' mainly because of the noises they make. We give you, Prairie Dog! Or Cynomys in Latin, which roughly means 'mouse dog.' 

Scientists have been observing their complex lifestyles and social relationships, and they say that if we look deeply, we can actually learn a lot from them!

1. These animals are extremely social, and they live in their ‘towns,’ which are small colonies, scattered across big lands.

This social structure has its own classes and roles. Just like in our families, they have nuclear families, and that certain family belongs to one specific nest. They hang out together and look after one other.

2. A normal family consists of one husband and 2-3 wives. Kinda Middle-Eastern eh?

Don’t be fooled though. The high amount of female prairie dogs is required to make sure the kids are fed enough, and as often as they need it.  Males come and help the family, when they are needed. They are very helpful to each other.

3. They love meeting their friends, and they greet each other by sniffing. They do this using, not their urine, but tree branches.

4. They know their limits where they live.

5. If a family is under attack, the mother fights younger or same-aged attackers. If the attacker is older, they immediately call the males.

6. They have no trouble going up against the most dangerous animals to protect their little ones.

7. They have a complex signaling system. They use different voices to signal different things.

8. This system is so complicated and precise, that they can actually say “A guy in a blue shirt and chinos is coming towards us.” WOW!

9. Depending on the signal, the way the colony reacts is different from moment to moment.

10. The language they use is actually similar to ours. They use subjects, verbs, objects, and sometimes they even have accents!

11. Even though it’s not proven yet, it’s been said that they can talk about non-existant things when they describe a situation.

12. This research also shows that prairie dogs can develop new words in different conditions. Before that, we thought only humans could do that!

13. In terms of their nests, they build long tunnels that can absorb rain drops and prevent erosion.

14. They also clean up all the plants and unnecessary objects around their nests so they can observe the area better.

15. They usually leave the nest’s entrance open so that fresh air can easily circulate within their homes.

One side of the tunnel is high and open, the other side is low, in order to make this possible.

16. They build rooms for different activities. Rooms for feeding, sleeping, winter and so on!

17. They even have a panic room, in case the nest is flooded. This room always gets fresh air.

18. They never waste the soil they dig. They use it to build little observation decks.

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19. They are crucial to the ecological system.

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These guys sacrifice themselves so the ecological chain won’t be broken. They get eaten by opossums, rock eagles, ferrets and more.

20. On the other hand, some other animals like owls trust prairie dogs with their nests. Even rhinos, antelopes and bison use the same area for feeding, and have no problems interacting with them.

Because it’s easier to use the area around prairie dogs, they protect and observe the area carefully.

21. Lastly, they have sex in their own nests to prevent any possible distraction. Such respect for private affairs!

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