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Black-tailed prairie dog

Let's learn

These little dogs aren’t really dogs at all, but a kind of ground squirrel closely related to groundhogs, chipmunks and marmots.

Originally widespread across the Great Plains of North America and the extreme north of Mexico, they live in close-knit family groups called ‘coteries’ in huge networks of burrows called ‘towns’. Their language is very complex with different ‘barking’ sounds to identify their various predators, such as hawks, owls, eagles, ravens, coyotes, badgers, ferrets and snakes.

They may look cute, but don’t be fooled. As a key prey species for many other animals, prairie dogs know how to defend themselves. As our keepers will tell you, they are skilled with very sharp claws and powerful teeth.

Conservation status | Endangered

Fact Sheet

Scientific name

Cynomys ludovicianus


Sciuridae (squirrel-like rodents)




8 to 10 years

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