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Common Name: Black-tailed Prairie Marmot Scientific Name: Cynomys ludovicianus

LOWER RISK Black-tailed Prairie Marmot Distribution: North America

Habitat: Grassland Height: Approx. 35cm Weight: Up to 1.5g Diet: Herbivorous

Black-tailed prairie dogs are large rodents and as the name suggests, they have black tails. They have large eyes, small ears, a short tail and brown fur. The hairs of the prairie dog are tipped black in the summer and tipped white in the winter. Prairie dogs are found from south west Canada down to North Mexico, where they occupy short grass prairie habitats. They play an important role in this habitat providing food for a number of larger predators. Their empty burrows also provide refuge for a range of creatures. Prairie dogs are herbivores and eat grasses, thistles, rabbit brush, cacti and underground roots and bulbs. They obtain all the water they need from the food they eat. In the past, prairie dogs were subject to extermination campaigns, due to their burrowing activities and their feeding habitats. Prairie dogs are still locally common, but their habitat has been greatly reduced. Prairie dogs are rapid breeders and can produce up to 8 young per litter. The female has a gestation period of 33 – 38 days and the young are born blind and hairless. The young stay in the burrow for the first few weeks of life, before coming to the surface and gradually dispersing. They are very social animals and live in large prairie dog ‘towns’. Prairie dogs are diurnal and are most active during the cool hours of the day. They engage in numerous social activities including grooming. A sentry system is in operation to alert all the prairie dogs outside if they are in danger so they can quickly return to their burrows.