Do you have Prairie dogs in your yard?
Prairie dogs are social squirrels with short little tails and who like to sit upright near their burrows. They are very social and have a very elaborate communication system. The chirp-like sounds they make will not only identify potential predators like coyotes, hawks, and humans, but they can be descriptive. They can communicate to other prairie dogs if the human is fat or thin and what color clothes they are wearing. They have done experiments where the same person walks out into a prairie dog colony wearing different colored t-shirts at different times, the prairie dogs will have alarm calls that contain the same description of the person’s size and shape, but will vary in their description of the color. They like to socialize and they constantly visit other prairie dogs and even groom each other. When two prairie dogs meet they nuzzle and kiss each other.
They are not dangerous and do not carry diseases.
They simply live in little villages (wards) and mind our own business. Some people think they kill trees but that is not true. They do not feed on tree roots unless there is absolutely nothing else to eat. We find most of our food above ground. Other little animals such as gophers will feed on the roots of trees and bushes. Some people think they carry the plague and can spread it to your species. This is also not true. When the fleas that carry the plague invade their wards, they die just as humans do. If a ward is full of healthy, fun loving prairie dogs, then you can be assured that the fleas that carry the plague aren’t present.
These beautiful little animals were once very numerous over much of the west. There are five species of pdogs and they once were more likely a billion strong and had colonies that covered over 100 million acress. They have since been reduced in numbers by over 95%.
Black-footed ferrets are large weasels with a black facial mask and black feet. They are presently on the Endangered Species List.They feed almost exclusively on prairie dogs. Since the number of pdogs have been decimated by humans, the ferrets have become almost extinct. Ferrets were once found all over the west but now are very limited in numbers. They have been reintroduced into some states, including NM. Although they are rarely seen, it doesn’t mean they aren’t around. They are nocturnal and very secretive and it is very unlikely they will ever be seen even if they are present.
Personally, i love prairie dogs. They aerate my pasture and keep coyotes from picking off my lamb. We love sitting at the breakfast table and watching them out in the fields. Adorable little critters.
If you must do something about the holes in your yard, using organic methods are safer for your family, pets and wildlife.