• Arizona is home to two types of prairie dogs — Gunnison’s in the northern part of the state and black-tailed down south.

• Of the five prairie dog species, black-tails have the greatest range across western North America —  from south-central Canada to the northern part of Mexico.

• Black-tail prairie dog range across North America has been reduced to less than 2 percent of what it used to be 150 years ago.

• Black-tailed prairie dogs are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day.

• They measure about 14 inches long including a 2-1/2-inch tail.

• During colder winter months, they spend more time underground, but they do not hibernate.

• They are highly social animals that live in family groups called coteries. A coterie will typically consist of one breeding male, one to four breeding females, and any offspring less than two years of age.

• Prairie dogs live in groups to help protect themselves from predators. They use an extensive system of vocalizations to communicate with the rest of the colony. They have a different alarm call for different predators, such as hawks, coyotes, and humans.

• Black-tailed prairie dogs breed once a year and produce an average of three young.

• Females can live to be eight years old, while males have a shorter life span of approximately five years.

• Females stay within their coterie for life, but males disperse once they reach breeding age around two years old.

• Black-tailed prairie dogs eat a variety of vegetation. They mainly feed on grasses and forbs (certain flowering plants), but will also eat seeds and insects. They do not need a source for water because they are able to hydrate themselves with water from their food.

SOURCE: Arizona Game and Fish Department

Senior Editor, News, Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Az.