A Rodent Misunderstood
Make no mistake; the small rodents just down the path from the grizzly bears aren’t gophers, they’re black-tailed prairie dogs. Watch members of the Calgary Zoo’s colony darting in and out of their burrows as they take turns watching for danger. If they spot something, you won’t want to miss it. They stand up on their back legs, lift their heads and squeak out a call that sounds like a dog’s bark.
Remote camera traps are a bit like Candid Camera for endangered species, offering researchers a peek into the secret lives of animals facing environmental challenges.
Prairie dogs are highly social and live in family groups called coteries. They have a complex language system, and it is believed they even have different calls to identify each type of predator. The offspring learn this at a very young age.
At a Glance
500 - 1,500 g (1.1 - 3.3 lb.)
Length of 35 - 40 cm (14 - 16 in.)
Arid, short-grass plains near river flats and coulees
Grass, roots and forbs