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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Prairie Dogs

 
 
Prairie Dogs Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, December 17, 2017
1. Prairie Dogs Marker
Inscription. Click to hear the inscription.  
Home on the range?
In the early 1900s, as farmers and ranchers moved west, black-tailed prairie dog habitat was converted into crops and grassland for cattle.

Today, only small, scattered populations of prairie dogs are found mainly in protected parks and wildlife refuges.

The decline of the prairie dog threatens many other species. Their burrows act as homes for owls and badgers, and prairie dogs are a critical food source for many endangered animals.

Did you know?
Black-footed ferrets were once a main predator of prairie dogs. The ferrets lived in prairie dog burrows and hunted at night. So when the number of prairie dogs fell, the black-footed ferret population nearly died out.

Smithsonian Scientists At Work
With the help of National Zoo scientists, captive-bred ferrets are now being released into the wild!

To learn even more about prairie dogs and ferrets, visit our exhibit in the Small Mammal House.

 
Erected by Smithsonian Institution.
 
Location. 38° 55.707′ 
Prairie Dogs Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, December 17, 2017
2. Prairie Dogs Marker
N, 77° 2.845′ W. Marker is in Smithsonian National Zoo, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Olmsted Walk. Touch for map. On the grounds of the Smithsonian National Zoological Garden. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. How to Drink Coffee and Save Birds (a few steps from this marker); A Hollywood Legend at the Zoo? (within shouting distance of this marker); The Book That Brought a Dinosaur to Life (within shouting distance of this marker); Easter Monday (within shouting distance of this marker); The O-Line (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (about 500 feet away); Aldabra Tortoise (about 500 feet away); A Capital Bird (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Smithsonian National Zoo.
 
Categories. AnimalsEnvironmentSettlements & Settlers
 
Black-tailed Prairie Dog sign image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, December 17, 2017
3. Black-tailed Prairie Dog sign

Top of sign:

Do not reach or throw objects
into the exhitib.


Do not feed the animals. They will bite!


Bottom of sign:
Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Cynomys ludovicianus

Pucker up? Prairie dogs often greet each other with what looks like a kiss. They are actually touching their noses or front teeth. But when prairie dogs from different coteries meet, they may flick their tails at each other and sometimes fight!

Natural Diet: Primarily grasses and herbs.

Social Structure: Live in "towns" divided into territories by family groups, or "coteries." Typical coterie is an adult male, several related females, and their offspring.

Status: Poisoning and habitat loss have eliminated these animals from 98% of their original range.

Weight: Around .7 kg (1.5 lb)

Range: Southern Canada, Montana, and North Dakota to northern Mexico

Habitat: Prairie (grasslands)
Sign at Prairie Dog exhibit image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, December 17, 2017
4. Sign at Prairie Dog exhibit

Help us take care of our animals.

All zoo animals have planned diets.

Please don't feed them.
Prairie Dogs Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, December 17, 2017
5. Prairie Dogs Marker

Top of sign:

Do not reach or throw objects
into the exhitib.


Do not feed the animals. They will bite!


Bottom of sign:
Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Cynomys ludovicianus

Watch and listen for prairie dogs to "yip" as they throw their paws into the air as if trying to jump. Prairie dogs "jump-yip" during times of high excitement, such as territorial disputes. A single display can spark a chain of jump-yips that spreads across the entire town.

Natural Diet: Primarily grasses and herbs.

Social Structure: Live in "towns" divided into territories by family groups, or "coteries." Typical coterie is an adult male, several related females, and their offspring.

Status: Poisoning and habitat loss have eliminated these animals from 98% of their original range.

Weight: Around .7 kg (1.5 lb)

Range: Southern Canada, Montana, and North Dakota to northern Mexico

Habitat: Prairie (grasslands)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 20, 2017. This page originally submitted on December 17, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 61 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 17, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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