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 ?
Use of satellite imagery to detect prairie dog towns. Natural Heritage New Mexico Publ.
But it's one of my favorite walkaround varminters, used mostly for cruising the edges of prairie dog towns, shooting from field positions and predator calling.
Breeding biology of interior least terns was evaluated in the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River, near Childress, Texas, in 1998.
"If you have 2,000 acres and 600 of them are a prairie dog town, that's a lot different than when you have 12,000 acres.
Data on owl numbers and density and prairie dog town size were averaged over the 3 yr.
"As far as I could see in any direction, I was still looking at the prairie dog town. The Tranels are demonstrating that ranchers can coexist with these animals and still be very successful." Aschwanden's article about the beleaguered creatures, "Learning to Live With Prairie Dogs," begins on page 20.
More happens in Prairie Dog Town than on your favorite action-packed T.V.
On the morning of 9 January 1995, four ferruginous hawks and an adult bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were observed at a 450-acre area of native short-grass prairie habitat east of Amarillo, Texas, which supports a large prairie dog town. The hawks were perched on the ground and on utility structures in and adjacent to the prairie dog town.
An over-populated prairie dog town is a sight to behold --a target rich environment if you will.
On a big prairie dog town the barrel of a .22-250 can be totally fried in one day of consistent shooting.