Prairie Dogs

Origin

Found in the grass prairies of Mexico, Canada and through the central United States east of the Rocky Mountains.

Description

A prairie dog is a variety of a ground squirrel. Most pet prairie dogs are the black-tail variety which are diurnal, meaning they are active during the daylight hours. Prairie dogs are very social animals living underground in large colonies. They are very loyal and expressive with unique vocalizations. Prairie dogs are extremely hardy and can live up to 10 years in captivity.

Feeding

Prairie dogs should feed moslty on good quality hay with a small amount of species specific pellets.  Any type of hay is fine with but only use alfalfa as an occasional treat. Fresh corn on the cob is a favorite with prairie dogs and can be used as a treat. Green vegetables in moderation can be offered and fruit should be avoided or used as a rare treat. Nuts and some formulated bird foods can also be used as treats.  Prairie dogs love to eat but can be prone to obesity. Provide water in a water bottle and a bowl.

Housing

The best cage for a prairie dog is a multi-level ferret-type cage or a cage that rests over a large tank that can be filled with hay. The multi-level cage is closest to a burrow and gives the prairie dog adequate room to move around and stand. The cage tray bottom may be lined with aspen bedding. Hay and bedding material may be added for them to weave a nest with. Prairie dogs love a nest and flower pots or bowls work well. You can hang bird toys that consist of wood blocks and thick rope and consider tunnels and other forms of enrichment.

Bonding

When you first bring your prairie dog home, hold it often and socialize it well. Once a prairie dog has bonded with you, it will love you like its own family. They can be harness trained, taught to allow nail trims, and stay social and friendly for life.