Spring means it’s time for Prairie Dog pups! At the San Francisco Zoo, the cute little pups have been popping-up out of their burrows, keeping zoo visitors entertained!
Prairie Dogs (genus Cynomys) are herbivorous, burrowing rodents native to the grasslands of North America. There are five species: Black-tailed, White-tailed, Gunnison's, Utah, and Mexican Prairie Dogs. They are a type of ground squirrel, found in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
In the United States, they range primarily west of the Mississippi River, though they have also been introduced in a few eastern locales. Despite the name, they are not actually canines. Prairie Dogs are named for their habitat and warning call, which sounds similar to a dog's bark.
Prairie Dogs are chiefly herbivorous, though they eat some insects. They feed primarily on grasses and small seeds.
Prairie Dogs are highly social and live in large colonies, or "towns", that can span hundreds of acres and may contain 15-26 family groups.
Family groups are the most basic unit if their society, and members of a family group inhabit the same territory. Members of a family group interact through oral contact or "kissing" and grooming one another, but they do not perform these behaviors with Prairie Dogs from other family groups.