Adopt me! Keeping up with the Prairie Dogs.

Looking to add a furry member to your family? Look no further! Through the Desert Museum’s adoption program you can be a “proud parent” to one of our prairie dogs. Your donations allow our prairie dogs to have a healthy lifestyle at the Desert Museum. Adopt today!

Need more reasons to adopt a prairie dog? Here are three interesting facts about our burrowing rodents.

 

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Engaging in physical interaction known as “kissing.” Photo: Paulina Bueno

Social Interaction

Prairie dogs are social animals and create closely-knit family groups called, coteries. Each family is composed of one adult male, one or more adult females, and their offspring. After their offspring is old enough to leave the group they find a different family to defend and breed. However, females stay in their natal group for life. Members of each family group usually show affection through “kissing” and grooming one another. It is important to note, that physical interaction only happens between prairie dogs from the same family group.

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Chillin’. Photo: Paulina Beuno

Parenting

Black-tailed prairie dogs call the Desert Museum home. The male of the family usually fathers the offspring and the primary caregiver is the mom. She keeps the burrow tidy and collects grass for the nest while defending her territory from predators. During the first month of life, young prairie dogs spend their time inside the burrows and are considered full grown at five months. Some female prairie dogs will take in a young one even if it’s not her own. She will nurse the young prairie dog and offer a place to sleep.

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Young prairie dog. Photo: Paulina Bueno

Language

Prairie dogs create a sound that to the human ear may seem simple and repetitive, but it actually conveys a plethora of information. Prairie dogs have a sophisticated communication system that signals different types of predators, ergo their calls have been described as a form of grammar. Since prairie dogs have a unique call for specific predators, researchers have concluded these mammals have highly developed cognitive abilities. One of the most remarkable prairie dog communications is known as the “jump-yip” or territorial call. During this display of communication, the prairie dog will stretch its body vertically while making a call, which causes the other prairie dogs around to do the same.

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Naptime. Photo: Paulina Bueno

Written by ASDM Media & Marketing Summer 2017 Intern, Paulina Bueno. 


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