squirrel extermination

Prairie Dogs are Squirrels not Dogs

In 1900s, the people from Texas called a type of squirrel a Prairie Dog. This name was given to these squirrels after a whole "town", about 100 miles by 250 miles wide was discovered to be "full" of these squirrels.

However, Prairie Dogs are not exclusively found in Texas. These squirrels are also found in Mexico and Canada, and in many US states. Prairie dogs prefer to live in places that are of higher elevation, popular examples are the Chihuahuan Desert and the Great Basin.

Prairie dogs are considered to be the most "social" of all the squirrels known to mankind. They live in a colony that is highly organized, where every member has to strictly perform a specific function and all these squirrels are impressively dedicated to the functions that they are tasked to perform just like all the popular social animals like ants, bees and termites. They are most related to ground squirrels and marmots which both live inside burrows dug unto the ground. But these squirrels are also related to Chipmunks which are known to live in trees and in houses. So far, scientists have named 5 squirrels that belong to the Prairie Dog family. These are:

1. The Utah Prairie Dogs - This specie is considered to be the smallest of the five and is generally treated as an endangered species. Its scientific name is C. parvidens.

2. Mexican Prairie Dogs - This squirrel is also considered as an endangered species and is exclusively distributed only within a few parts of Mexico. Gunnison's are now secured by the Mexican government, making its hunting and trade highly prohibited. The scientific name of this squirrel is C. mexicanus, for obvious reasons.

3. Gunnison's Prairie Dogs - Scientifically called C. gunnisoni, these squirrels are relatively shorted than its fellow prairie dogs.

4. White-tailed Prairie Dogs - These squirrels are normally found in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming, all in the western part of the United States. Scientific name is C. leucurus.

5. Black-tailed Prairie Dogs - These squirrels are not rare but they occupy only the narrow bands throughout Texas and Canada which are dry and highly elevated. The scientific name for the black-tailed Prairie Dogs is C. ludovicianus.

The main species comprising the Prairie Dogs family are the Black-tailed and the White-tailed Prairie Dogs. Between these two, the black-striped ones are the most common and are usually kept as pets. People are legally allowed to sell and buy black-tailed Prairie dogs because they are very common and are far from being endangered. Pet owners usually get their Black-tailed prairie dogs from pet shops or by catching a bay prairie dog in the wild. On the other hand, the white-tailed prairie dogs are not as easily encountered in the wild because they prefer to live at higher elevations compared to the other prairie dogs. They also hibernate during the winter season but unlike the black-tailed, they are less colonial when it comes to their habits and attitudes.

Common Description

(c) nationalgeographic.com
Prairie Dogs are quite fat when compared to other squirrels. They have broad bodies with rounded heads. They have short legs, but they also have very hairy tails. Prairie Dogs have 22 teeth! Their weight is slightly surprising if you come to consider their sizes. They are only about 11-13 inches long from the top of their head down to the bottom of their bodies but they can weigh as much as 3 pounds each. Their tails measure between 3 and 4 inches.

Overall, Prairie Dogs have a yellowish covering but they ears and bellies can appear whitish. Face-wise, it can be observed that Prairie dogs have a white patch on each side of its nose and there is a whitish ring around its eyes upper lips.

Noise and Sounds

Perhaps it is because of their call that the people from Texas called them Prairie Dog. These squirrels make a high-pitched call that sounds more like a dog's bark. One thing notable about Prairie Dogs is their ability to send-off different sounds to refer to different predators. They can create a distinct call for an approaching hawk, rave, ferret, coyote, eagle, snake or owl. They can also run fast despite their fat appearance, they can run as much as 35 miles each hour but only over a short distance, after running as fast as that, Prairie Dogs will become exhausted and would need rest. Nonetheless, this defence mechanism allows them to get away fast and hide from predators. This escape technique often works better than the complex escape techniques of some animals.

Behaviour of Prairie Dogs

All 5 Prairie Dogs are considered to be diurnal. They hibernate during winter and would only be a little active during cold days. They also follow a social order within a colony that is comprised of relatives. The entire colony only accepts new members which are offspring of the current female members. A colony's maximum population is 35 per acre of land.

These squirrels do not steal a burrow from other squirrels or animals; they always prefer to make their own burrows. They are excellent architects; they exhibit their skills in construction by building reinforcing dikes around their burrows which secure them from sudden rains and floods. They shape the entrance of their burrow as a funnel making it difficult to be accessed from the outside. The entrance measures about 3-4 inches in diameter.

Inside their burrows, these squirrels make different tunnels that can reach up to 16 feet long. At the end of each tunnel is a chamber which is used as a storage room, as nest or for some other purpose. Predators would find it very difficult to invade a Prairie Dog's tunnel because of its design. A single chamber can have a maximum area of as much as 100 feet.


Prairie Dogs can be carriers of the bubonic plague, so you need to be careful with the ones that you interact with. Make sure that the one that you take with you is not infected with the bacteria that cause the plague.
squirrel extermination