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Category: Dog Training Courses Online | Author: admin 02.06.2014
GenusCynomys (1)Named for their dog-like yip, prairie dogs are in fact rather large, stout, ground-dwelling squirrels (3) (4). Black-tailed prairie dog biologyBlack-tailed prairie dogs exhibit a high degree of social organisation, living in enormous colonies known as ‘towns’ containing from hundreds to millions of individuals (1) (7). Black-tailed prairie dog threatsPrairie dogs have suffered from habitat loss and persecution as ranching and farming has expanded during the past 50 years or more (1) (4).
Black-tailed prairie dog conservationStill widespread, relatively common, and existing in a number of protected areas, the black-tailed prairie dog is not considered to be under any serious threat of extinction in the foreseeable future, and conservation measures are therefore limited (7).
The black-tailed prairie dog is generally tan to pinkish-brown above and whitish to buff coloured below, and is named for the distinctive and diagnostic black tip to its short tail (4).
As agriculture and livestock ranching claimed habitat previously used by these rodents, the prairie dogs became vilified by farmers and the target of poisoning campaigns (1).

The Prairie Dog Coalition has been established to protect the animals and restore prairie dog ecosystems, as well as aiming to raise public awareness of the plight they face at the hands of agricultural expansion and misinformed farmers (10).
Prairie dogs are widely considered a pest and exterminated through poisoning and shooting for destroying cultivated crops (8). As a result, the former range and numbers of the black-tailed prairie dog have been dramatically reduced, and the considerable reduction in population numbers has also seriously threatened, amongst others, the black-footed ferret (classified as Extinct in the Wild), for which they were virtually sole prey (5). Females can live up to eight years of age, whereas males tend not to live longer than five years in the wild (7).The black-tailed prairie dog is diurnal and active throughout the year (7).
Unlike many other species of prairie dog, these animals do not hibernate, although when the winter weather is extremely cold or snowy they may spend extended periods of time underground (2). Most activity is conducted during the cool hours of the day, when individuals engage in social activities, such as grooming each other, as well as feeding on grasses, herbs and the occasional invertebrate (7), while midday hours are usually spent sleeping below ground (4).

Most prairie dogs forage close to their burrows when possible, moving into distant foraging areas only when forced to do so by local shortages of green shoots (7). While prairie dogs are out foraging, a sentry perches on the volcano-like ring that surrounds the burrow and watches for predators.

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