prairie dog


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prairie dog,

short-tailed, ground-living rodent, genus Cynomys, of the squirrelsquirrel,
name for small or medium-sized rodents of the family Sciuridae, found throughout the world except in Australia, Madagascar, and the polar regions; it is applied especially to the tree-living species.
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 family, closely related to the ground squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots. There are several species, found in the W United States and N Mexico. Prairie dogs, named for their barking cries, are 12 to 15 in. (30 to 36 cm) long, including the 1- to 4-in. (2.5 to 10 cm) tail, and have short, coarse, buff-colored fur. The black-tailed prairie dog, Cynomys ludovicianus, is found on the Great Plains. Members of this species live in connecting burrows, forming colonies, or "towns," which may extend many miles and include thousands of individuals. The entrances of the burrows are surrounded by cone-shaped mounds, which serve to keep out rainwater; the entrance shafts drop straight down for several feet. Prairie dogs spend much time maintaining the mounds by tamping down damp earth. They often sit upright on their haunches in rows, one animal on each mound; this behavior has given them the name "picket pins" in some regions. At any sign of danger the animals give a warning cry and duck down into the burrows. Rattlesnakes and burrowing owls sometimes live in the burrows and prey on young prairie dogs. Three species of white-tailed prairie dogs inhabit open or brushy valleys of the Rocky Mts; their burrows are usually less extensive than those of the black-tailed species. Prairie dogs feed mainly on grasses, but also eat insects; they hibernate in winter. Prairie dog towns were formerly much more common and extensive than now; some towns on the plains encompassed millions of individuals. Ranchers regard the animals as competitors for grazing lands and have destroyed them in large numbers. Prairie dogs are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Rodentia, family Sciuridae.

prairie dog

[′prer·ē ‚dȯg]
(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for three species of stout, fossorial rodents belonging to the genus Cynomys in the family Sciuridae; all have a short, flat tail, small ears, and short limbs terminating in long claws.

prairie dog

any of several gregarious sciurine rodents of the genus Cynomys, such as C. ludovicianus, that live in large complex burrows in the prairies of North America
References in periodicals archive ?
Hunters there are after coyotes as well, but they also have the prairie dogs.
Wildlife managers have struggled to recover ferrets and manage prairie dog colonies due to the devastating effects of plague, said Dan Tripp, a CPW scientist and a co-author on the USGS study.
Flora and fauna associated with prairie dog colonies and adjacent ungrazed mixed-grass prairie in western South Dakota.
The study consisted of two sampling sites in each of the following habitat types (totaling six sampling sites): (1) grasslands without prairie dogs colonies, (2) grasslands with active prairie dogs colonies, and (3) mesquite (Prosopis) scrublands.
While the animals get used to their new home, researchers feed them live prairie dogs so they can practice hunting.
Black-tailed prairie dogs live in the same places, probably because of the same survival instinct.
Species assessment for black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludoviciantes) in Wyoming.
Zack the Prairie Dog is a delightful book that reminds us all not to judge, but to focus on what we have in common.
We studied a successfully reintroduced ferret population to test hypotheses about ferret space use patterns and the relationship of prairie dog burrow distribution to ferret space use during the non-breeding or litter-rearing (May-October) season.
The prairie dog was classified as an endangered species in 1973.
UP FOR A NIBBLE Baby prairie dog emerges from burrow with its mum at Belfast Zoo yesterday
Taking the disparate subjects of the dwindling prairie dog population in Utah, the aftermath of Rwandan genocide, and her brother's death from cancer, she reminds us through her anecdotes that our broken world can be woven back together "with the force of our moral imagination and the work of our hearts and hands.