Me either! I only realized how important Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs are when I met John Laux of Nebraska Game and Parks Commission while on a media trip. These little creatures build towns of linked tunnels – the largest town ever found covered 65,000 square kilometers! Early explorer Capt. Lewis described them as “barking squirrels”, while Clark called them a “ground rat”. They caught and ate one of the prairie sentinels, but it never became a diet staple. When Lewis and Clark ordered their men to flush out more rodents with water, the men hauled water all day and succeeded in catching only one prairie dog – it was put in a cage and made a pet!
The burrows and tunnels of prairie dogs provide homes for burrowing owls, black-footed ferrets and snakes, among others. It is estimated that over 150 species of plants and animals benefit from prairie dog activity earning them flagship species status. So now you know that a prairie dog’s presence or absence dramatically alters an ecosystem! To see a prairie dog town look along the roadsides in Harlan, Nebraska www.harlantourism.org. Canada’s only prairie dogs are found in Grasslands National Park in southern Saskatchewan http://bit.ly/RvTAsU
This rodent positively impacts over 150 species of plans and animals. Can you guess which rodent it is? Click to Tweet.