March 25, 2015 Calgary Zoo

Caught on camera! Black-tailed prairie dogs find treasure

It’s warming up in Grasslands National Park and the black-tailed prairie dogs are getting ready for spring. In order to better understand how these threatened rodents spend their winters, Centre for Conservation & Research biologists are sorting through thousands of images from their motion sensor cameras as a way to study their overwinter behaviours.

One of the things they’ve observed during the winter is that prairie dogs will come up to the surface from their underground burrows to eat snow. Recently one of the cameras captured a prairie dog discovering a grassland treasure! (Can you guess what it is?) It’s bison hair, and this prairie dog is taking it down into its burrow. Researchers think that they use found materials such as fur, hair and dry grasses to line their burrows for warmth during the cold winter months or to make nests for their pups.

Why is this research so important? Learn all about the impact of black tailed prairie dogs on the future of the Canadian prairies, or watch this adorable video.

Read more stories about our fantastic biologists in the field.

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