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The prairie dog

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Prairie dogs in Weld County
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A Weld County prairie dog colony, November 2019.
The prairie dog

Cousin to squirrels – not canines – prairie dogs dig vast underground burrows that can cover hundreds of acres. The prairie dog barks. It also growls, and chatters. And if it spots danger – a rattlesnake, a coyote, a bulldozer – it makes a noise between a chirp and a wheeze. When the coast is clear, it leaps and yips again, and soon the whole colony will be yipping and jumping.

Prairie dog towns are home to other species that appreciate their engineering prowess, like the burrowing owl, which actually cannot dig at all. Grasses above a prairie dog town are higher in protein and nitrogen, making them choice grazing for bison, elk, and pronghorn. And down below, the prairie dogs keep order. Rodents they may be, but they’re not filthy. They build bathroom chambers in their tunnels. When one is full, they dig a new one.

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.