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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). 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). 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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