The Black-Tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) is a rodent mammal in the Sciuridae family of squirrels.
The Black-Tailed Prairie Dog is tan-coloured with markings of dark fur. It has a brown tail with a dark tip. Its belly is lighter coloured. It has small ears. It has long claws used for digging.
It grows to 36-43 centimetres (14-17 inches) in length and 8-10 centimetres (3-4 inches) tall.
It is native to the Great Plains of North America from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. It prefers arid grasslands near rivers or creeks.
It lives in colonies of five to thousands of individuals. It lives in a burrow underground. A colony makes 20-57 burrows. The entrance to the burrow can be dome-shaped, crater-shaped, or just a hole. It does not hibernate underground in winter. Instead, it is still active above ground in winter.
It is diurnal – active during the day. It is an herbivorous grazer because it eats grass. In winter, it likes to eat prickly pear. Its predators include coyotes, badgers, bobcats, and eagles.
The female adds grass to the burrow to make a nest. She has 3-5 live young, called pups, after a pregnancy of about 34 days. The pups are born altricial – without fur and with their eyes closed. They open their eyes when they are 30 days old.
The Black-Tailed Prairie Dog has a lifespan of about 5-7 years.
Location of photograph: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM