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.
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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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The refuge has been closed to the public since Wednesday after two confirmed cases of sylvatic plague -- a rare disease caused by a bacterium that can be transmitted to humans via mammals and their fleas -- were discovered in black-tailed prairie dogs on the refuge and in other nearby areas of Adams County.
We have shown that plant species richness was slightly lower in active prairie dog colonies than in either inactive colonies or the surrounding matrix, and there were significant differences in plant species richness between active and inactive colonies; however, the difference was small (2.4 plant species on average).
In 1988, a Forest Service Prairie Dog Management Plan allocated 6,180 acres of Black-Tailed Prairie Dog populations in South Dakota on national grasslands which would be habitat for the endangered Black-Footed Ferret.
Black-footed ferrets, meanwhile, are native to North America and specialize solely on prairie dogs. They are nocturnal, and eat one prairie dog about every three days.
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.
"We never observed a ground squirrel kill or injure an adult or juvenile prairie dog," says study coauthor John Hoogland.
Prairie Dog Song is a gorgeous book that blends information about grasslands with music and stunning collage illustrations.
At about one year old, prairie dogs go out on their own and find new homes in abandoned tunnels or by digging new tunnels.
Rodents were mainly captured in the mesquite scrublands (53%, S = 10, H = 1.9), followed by grasslands (37%, S = 7; H = 1.57) and prairie dog grasslands (10%, S = 3; H = 0.85).
Washington, Dec 05 ( ANI ): A new study has suggested that mating with more than one male increases reproductive success for female prairie dogs, despite an increase in risks.