Directly from the vast prairies located in the western part of the New Continent, in the United States, comes the Prairie dog, a rather curious animal that already tries to deceive us with its name. Yes, because it has nothing to do with the canine species. He is a 100% rodent.
Prairie Dog: Characteristics
Belonging to the family of sciurides, this creature is found to be a close relative of squirrels and its physique confirms it. Even if you may have never heard his name pronounced before today, you should know that not only does it exist but there are also several species. Only one of them, however, is the one that we can also find treated as a pet and it is the one we will talk about now, the Cynomys ludovicianus, aka the prairie dog from "Black tail".
This specific rodent sports a slender body that moves very agile and fast. He runs on the ground, quickly crossing the whole low vegetation which usually covers the ground in its natural habitat, the prairie, and proceeds quickly even underground. Like? Clearly digging its path and making large burrows underground in which to stay safe from predators. The color of the fur is similar to that of a squirrel, it can take on different shades between brown and brown but, being a black-tailed prairie dog, as we get closer to the tail, the hair becomes darker and darker.
Prairie Dog: Size
As is often the case, not only among rodents, also in this case the females are smaller than the males, on average, and the weight can vary from 0.5 Kg to 1 Kg while the male specimens can even reach 2 kg.
Prairie Dog: breeding
For reproduction it is necessary to reach the sexual maturity and this happens for our rodent after about two years of life. At that point the females start going into heat but only once in a while, always in the same period that is that between the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It is no coincidence, it is precisely the phase in which there are greater quantities of food available.
Gestation lasts almost a month or a little less, then the time of delivery arrives where the little ones are born but are not at all self-sufficient for a long period of time. The mother has to feed them, protect them and look after them for a long time, at least for a month and a half, therefore for a period that is longer than the pregnancy itself. At least since as we will see the prairie dog is a sociable animal and living in large colonies, the females lend a hand to each other and the care of the young is shared. An excellent climate of parental collaboration is established within a group of rodents.
Prairie Dog: breeding
In the wild, black thing prairie dogs can live 5 or 6 years but if kept in captivity they may have a life expectancy of even 10 years. They are very sociable animals and on the prairie they form large, very organized groups, they dig spacious tunnels and under the ground they organize spaces to house all the members of the same colony. In their burrowing burrows they seek shelter in the night or even when the temperatures are too low.
If instead the black-tailed prairie dog lives as pet, he is housed in a cage but it is good that he does not remain alone because he would suffer a lot. Two or more than two is the rule to keep them happy. Excellent even if then there will be a certain balance of relationships to be managed since as you imagine in the males, especially when the breeding season arrives, they will tend to be aggressive and to dominate one another in the presence of fertile females. When the heat period ends, however, everything becomes calmer. If we prefer not to find ourselves in the midst of difficult situations to deal with, we can opt for the castration of these animals.
Apart from this aggression linked to male instinct, the black-tailed prairie dog proves to be a very loving and an excellent company, the important thing is to get him used to the presence and contact with human beings as soon as possible so that over time we can establish a relationship of mutual trust and affection with him.
Precisely for this reason, the best time to adopt one of these rodents is immediately after weaning, when it is about 6 weeks old, while before, when he has to be with his mother and siblings because he is not yet autonomous, it is better if he begins to perceive a human presence so that something potentially threatening does not result.
Prairie Dog: Verse
We have waited for the end to unravel the mystery of this deceptive name, "prairie dog". It all started several years ago, in the colonial period of the American continent, when the first explorations of the territory were made from Europe, discovering new plants and new animals. When they met our rodent, they nicknamed it that because of the sound it makes, which is really a lot similar to a bark.
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