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Prairie Dog Interlude

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

iPhone photo by Debby Kaspari

I've gone on at length on this blog about prairie dogs. About what we've done to their populations--brought them to the brink of extinction--and about what we continue to do--poison, shoot, trap and even vacuum them into oblivion. I can't talk about that now; my heart is heavy enough. That's what the links are for, if you'd like to learn more. No, I'm going to celebrate them here, just roll around with them for a little while, if that's all right with you.

Being a heavily persecuted animal, prairie dogs are normally unapproachable. The only way to see them well is in a protected situation, as at Oklahoma's Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. These dogs are extremely well-acclimated to humans, perhaps too well-acclimated! They looove humans and their junk food fixes, oh yes they do.

Zick knows a photo op when she sees one. Plopping myself down at the side of the prairie dog viewing parking lot must've said, "She's got FOOD!" to the boss prairie dogs with the prime territories in the Cheeto zone. They galloped over to investigate.

Oh, God. Here they come. I may keel over from cuteness.

The first order of business when mobbed by wild rodents is to keep your fingers up and out of the way. Rodents would just as soon bite you as look at you. That's how they discover if your finger is made of flesh or corn syrup solids.

All the photos below of me mobbed by prairie dogs by Timothy Ryan. Thank you, Timmers!

I dunno. You think this woman is getting good mileage out of her rabies vaccinations? Yeah, me too.

Well, hello, little guy. You are some cute.

I'm sorry. The sign says I shouldn't feed you.

It says that people food makes your hair fall out, among other things. I can add that it makes you really fat.

Phooey! Just hand over the almonds and nobody gets hurt.

The dogs showed their disdain for my stance with a deposit. Murr, this pair's for you.


That first picture is just the best. You actually didn't need to write anything -- it says it all.

How adorable! Thanks for sharing and great captions :)

I fell in love with prairie dogs in the Black Hills a few years back. Love their little faces, their little feet, their little voices.

Not sure I'd love the doogie pooties on my leg though.

Too cute - but are you sure the rabies vaccination works for the plague? ;-X

In years past, thank god, at Sandy Beach Park in Saskatchewan, "they'd" put hoses done the holes, turn on the water, and sit there with BB guns waiting for the gophers to escape their dens. Who were "they"? Pretty much any and everybody. We still have such a long way to go to get to the end of tunnel...(sigh) apologies for being a downer. My word verification is woof fu...

OH, now I get it. I looked and looked and thought--what the heck is THAT. Now I get it.

Small, brown, Boston Terriers, begging for a little bit. Sweet.

Is a prairie dog the same as what we call a gopher (a Richardson's ground squirrel) here on the Alberta prairies? There are billions here if you want a few extra!

No, Heather, although many people mistake Richardson's ground squirrels for prairie dogs, the ground squirrel is about half the size (and girth) of a true prairie dog. And p.d.'s are much, much rarer and more heavily persecuted, probably because they dig correspondingly bigger holes and are so thoroughly colonial, preferring to live together by the thousands and thus altering the habitat quite profoundly. For the better, if you're interested in wildlife diversity, and for the worse, if you're worried about broken legs on your cows.

Love that first photo! Put a huge smile on my face.


I always objected to this type of deposit when I worked for the bank.

I'm with the others...that first picture. It's better than words. An instant smile on my frist day back at work since the holiday.


That looks like too much fun.

I like the begging pix the best. Can't thank you enough for showing a dream come true!
I fell in love with Prairie dogs when I was in library school in Cleveland. The Cleveland Zoo had a 'town'.

Dear god! I have to go lie down now and contemplate the cuteness of the situation.

Julie, have you ever read the American Seasons series by Edwin Way Teale? In "Journey Into Summer" he has a chapter devoted entirely to prairie dogs. Sounds like he had some similar observations to yours:

"Normally the food supply on the Devils Tower slope would be insufficient to support so large a colony. But here the regular seed and vegetable fare is supplemented by handouts from tourists. And a fearful and wonderful assortment is included. Bread and cookies, marshmallows and popcorn, peanuts and crackers, cake and candy, even bubble bum is welcomed by the voracious prairie dogs. I saw one chewing away on a cellophane bag that had contained potato chips. So far as I could see it was devouring the cellophane with relish. Another ran its forepaw around inside the neck of an empty Pepsi-Cola bottle and licked off the sweet residue. we were told of one prairie dog that kept returning to eat more ginger snaps, although it scolded and chattered and struck its nose with its forepaws each time its tongue began to burn. As we gazed over the almost deserted slope, we wondered how many midday siestas were being disturbed by stomach-aches."

I know it's probably terrible for them, but I can scarcely imagine anything cuter than a posse of prairie dogs blowing bubblegum. (Though these pictures come pretty close... :) Thanks for sharing the joy!

See? Now the nips aren't exposures, they're booster immunizations!

Knew I'd smoke you out of your burrow with this post, Gahanna! Got a bubonic plague shot for me? Far as I know no fleas jumped off 'em, at least as far as I know...ehhh

Living la vida salvaje,


Somehow calls to mind the image of a billboard: Got Buboes? Picture should probably be the "I feel happy, I feel happy..." guy from The Holy Grail.

I think for plague you should probably stock up on Cipro, but at least it's curable (sometimes). Anyway, as long as you're flea-free and bathe regularly
(not characteristics of folks in plague outbreaks) you should stay squeaky-clean and healthy.

I only saw Prairie Dogs once when I camped in Kansas on my way across country. A memorable experience for a suburban girl from New Jersey in 1970. Of course what we've done to wildlife in the past 40 years boggles the mind. Nothing is safe.

You do look like you are having one of those experiences of a lifetime. Grand photos.

I absolutely love the Prairie Dog exhibit at the Columbus Zoo. You can get up close and personal with them and the kids can crawl into "burrows" to get the feel for their dwellings. Thanks for the great pics, Julie. I hope those pants went directly into the wash!

Ahh, what's a little prairie dog poo between friends?

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