Black-tailed Prairie Dog: 10 Questions to Help You Get to Know Them & Prevent Them From Causing Damage

The prairie dog is one of the famous North American rodents and it’s undoubtedly one that has a tremendous importance. Even though they are the reason for the creation of characteristic micro habitats which provide actual living conditions for more than 150 different species, they are also the are also the reason for which you might want to be well aware of how to properly get rid of them and prevent them from causing any kind of damage to your property because this is something that they are very good at. With this in mind, we have taken the liberty of providing you with 10 integral and important questions, the answers to which are going to be particularly beneficial when it comes to the understanding as well as the prevention of these animals. So, without any further ado, let’s go right ahead and take a closer look.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of things to be said about this particular species of prairie dogs and these are just some of the basic questions which are going to help you get to know them properly.

1. What Do They Look Like?

They belong to the squirrel family so you can rest assured that there is some resemblance. Of course they are far from being the tree-loving rodents which are squirrels and they live underground. This has led to some characteristic specifications. The prairie dogs of this type have black tails even though it’s not as distinctly expresses as you might actually expect it to be. Furthermore, they have definitive little front-paws which are specifically accommodated to suit their digging needs.

【Read more about Squirrel】

2. How Big Do They Get?

Black-tailed prairie dog walking on the field

The species can vary in length between 352 and 415 mm. There is also a prevalent sexual dimorphism with the male specimens being significantly bigger in comparison. They usually range from 358 to 415 mm while the females are likely to be between 352 and 375 mm in length. The males are also about 15% heavier in comparison to the females which would regularly weigh between 705 and 1,050 grams.

3. What Do They Eat?

Black-tailed prairie dogs are herbivores and their main source of nutrients are roots as well as tubers, bark or stems, leaves, nuts, flowers, seeds and grains. They also eat small insects which is important and it needs to be conveniently noticed when it comes to it.

4. Where Do They Live?

The short answer is underground. However, in terms of geographical location, they occupy mid-grass prairies which are found in the central parts of Texas and to the north of the Canadian-United States boundary. They can also be found in Nebraska and in the eastern parts of Montana.

5. What Are Their Daily Activities?

Black-tailed prairie dogs work together to build a town

Now, it’s worth noting that in comparison to the other 4 species of prairie dogs, the black-tailed ones are the most social ones. Female specimens are usually going to remain in their natal coterie while the males are known for dispersing to neighboring coteries.

6. How Long Do They Live?

As it’s true for the majority of the mammals, the black-tailed prairie dogs also die within their first year. About half of the females and the males who manage to emerge from their natal underground burrows are going to survive through their first year of life. Females, however, can occasionally live up to 8 years while males don’t tend to live for more than 5.

7. How Do They Mate?

Mating within the black-tailed prairie dogs is closely related to the overall social structure that takes place in those animals. The pattern is rather polygynous where a single male is likely to mate with multiple females within his home coterie. If there is more than one male present in the coterie, the females are likely to mate with him as well.

8. How Do They Communicate With Each Other?

Luckily, there is quite a lot of information when it comes to the communication within the coteries of prairie dogs. The means of their communication are different. They have more than 12 distinct calls, including ones which alarm for predators amongst a range of other calls. Furthermore, there is significant physical contact within these animals, including playing, grooming and even the occasional fight.

Black-tail prairie dog communicating

9. Do They Cause Problems?

Now, the truth is that the prairie dog is usually considered to be a highly beneficial animal. The main reason for this being the significant terrain which their underground burrows tend to occupy. This can commonly get to up to a few hundred miles. This creates characteristic ecosystems for more than 150 different species. However, they can also be quite a burden. Black-tailed prairie dogs can cause significant structural damages to your home because their underground burrows can easily cause the foundations of the building to loosen up. This is characteristic for a range of other animals which have the same incessant digging patterns. At the same time, they are also capable of destroying your garden by eating the roots of the plants. This can significantly harm entire plantations as the animals are known to live in colonies of thousands.

10. How to Prevent Them From Causing Damages?

The most efficient prevention technique is through poisoning. However, you should also take into account the fact that some of these animals are protected by law. Luckily for you, black-tailed prairie dogs have been denied the protective status of endangered species so you can take care of them the way you see fit. Of course, other methods are also available – such as trapping and fumigation but both of these are not effective with the latter being particularly cruel as well.

【Read more about Trapping】


We hope that the current information is going to provide you with significant insight when it comes to the overall habits as well as the characteristics of the black-tailed prairie dogs so that you can effectively handle them if they are causing any damage to your property.

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