prairie dog

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Related to Prairie dogs: Black footed ferret

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 ?
Importation of exotic animals and indigenous, wild animals harvested for the commercial pet trade have been associated with previous outbreaks of infectious diseases in humans, including salmonella associated with reptiles (e.g., lizards, snakes, and turtles) and rularemia associated with prairie dogs (6,2); prairie dogs also have been documented to be infected with other human pathogens (e.g., plague) (8).
But the first case in the United States, a 4-year-old girl, became ill on May 16, just 4 days after a prairie dog was acquired by the family; the father, who was the last family member to become ill, first had symptoms on May 31.
Investigators said the prairie dogs were probably infected with the virus by a Gambian giant rat, which is native to Africa, at a Chicago-area pet distributor.
They said owners of prairie dogs should consult with health officials if their pets die and they themselves develop symptoms.
This type of plague is reportedly fairly common in such areas and can be devastating to prairie dog populations, which are a key cog in the ecosystem.
Several animal species rely to some extent on the occurrence of prairie dogs (Augustine and Baker, 2012; Lomolino and Smith, 2003) and the loss of prairie dogs may be a threat to the overall diversity of the prairie ecosystem (Miller et al., 1994; Sampson and Knopf, 1994).
While prairie dogs are common in South Dakota and many ranchers deal with their populations, federal land is also common in the western-half of the state.
"Shelbi is telling me that you need to get the kids out of the dirt because the prairie dogs, they have plague, and Truely is, I think, eating it.
Ranchers and urbanites also dislike prairie dogs because they see "destruction" of the grasses in the towns.
To alert the group to the presence of a predator, for example, the prairie dogs would make high-pitched calls that vary according to the type of predator and its size.
If you need to take a shooting bench with you to a public range or a field full of prairie dogs, I recommend the table Dixie Gun Worxs makes.
Varmint hunting also offers a convenient opportunity to introduce young people to the sport--particularly in locales where prairie dogs plague local farmers and ranchers.