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Black-tailed prairie dog

Cynomys ludovicianus

The black-tailed prairie dog is a species of ground squirrel. These rodents live in large underground burrows, called ‘towns’. These extensive tunnels contain separate chambers for sleeping, rearing young and for waste. The entrances to these complex tunnels can be identified by a raised dome-like mound of dirt. The dirt pile provides protection from the weather and also gives the prairie dog extra height when watching and scanning for predators.

Prairie dogs create their towns in the prairies and grasslands of North America. This rodent was once targeted as a pest but the main threat to the black tailed prairie dog is the destruction of habitat due to agricultural expansion.

They are very social animals and live in closely-knit family groups called "coteries" within their town. Coteries usually contain an adult male, one or more adult females and their young offspring. The prairie dog measures up to 41.5 centimetres in height and can weigh up to 1.6 kilograms.

IUCN Status

The IUCN status of the black-tailed prairie dog is least concern.

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  Fun fact Prairie dogs live in underground ‘towns’.

Animal class


Conservation status

Least concern, however prairie dogs face increasing habitat destruction.


Savanna, grassland, desert – found in open, arid grasslands along the Great Plains in North America, spreading from Texas to Canada.


Population is decreasing. There were once five billion prairie dogs in mid-west USA. Only 10 to 20 million remain today.


Herbivore. Black tailed prairie dogs eat mainly leaves, stems and the roots of grasses.