Gunnison’s Prairie Dog

Cynomys gunnisoni

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  • Gunnison’s Prairie Dog |  Photo: Hallie Larsen, NPS
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Basic Information

Order

Rodentia

Family

Sciuridae

Size

Gunnison's Prairie Dogs are generally between 11 and 15 inches in length.

Lifespan

up to 8 years

Weight

Gunnison's Prairie Dog (Cynomys gunnisoni) facts, habitat, diet, range, pictures and more to help you learn to identify the rare rodent.

Diet

Herbivore

Breeding

Female Gunnison's Prairie Dogs reach sexual maturity by age one. Females will mate for a single day during the spring mating season. During that time she may mate with several males. Females tend to live close to where they born throughout their lives, while males tend to travel further away.

Range

Southwestern U.S.

Number of Offspring

3-6 pups.

What does the Gunnison’s Prairie Dog look like?

Gunnison's Prairie Dogs have stocky bodies with an overall yellowish buff fur peppered with blackish hairs. Their heads tend to be slightly darker in coloration. They molt twice a year, once in the spring and fall.

Gunnison’s Prairie Dog Habitat

Grasslands

Gunnison’s Prairie Dog Facts

Gunnison's Prairie Dogs live in colonies. Each colony may have several hundred individuals. The colonies are further divided into clans. Each clan is a family group consisting of an adult male, a few females and their pups. Each clan has its own burrow and feeding sites. When a colony population is low, these territories may overlap with other clans, however when colony populations are high the clans will fight to defend feeding grounds. They communicate with each other through barking calls and physical contact such as cuddling, wrestling and kissing. Constantine 'Con' Slobodchikoff who is a professor at Northern Arizona University and has been researching Gunnison's Prairie Dogs for more than two decades says their vocal communication is extremely complex and is amongst the most progressive communication systems in all-natural animal languages. In the spring Gunnison's Prairie Dogs feed on fresh green shoots of plants, as summer rolls in they switch to primarily seeds. They have many predators, including Coyotes, Badgers, Bobcats, Weasels and large birds of prey, especially Golden Eagles.

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