PRAIRIE DOG INFORMATION
Warning: This animal may carry the
disease. When purchasing this animal be sure to get a clean bill of health
certificate from the vet. Regular check ups are advised.
The prairie dog is a member of the rodent family. There are five species
of prairie dogs with the Black-Tailed species being the most common. They
are generally light brown or tan in color, weighing from one and a half to
two and a half pounds with large eyes and long claws for digging and burrowing.
In the wild, prairie dogs live in colonies sometimes referred
to as "towns". Within these towns, there are coteries which usually consist
of a single adult male, one to four adult females, and any offspring under
two years old. They breed once a year and produce a litter of 4 to 6 pups.
Over the past few years prairie dogs have become more popular
as pets. But, before you run out and get one of these cute little critters,
please do a little homework first. Listed below is only a summary and further
research is advised as their diet and care will have a major impact on their
comfort and longevity.
In the wild, they live on low-grade grasses and an occasional
insect. In captivity, the adult prairie dog's diet should consist mainly
of Hay (no Alfalfa) and fresh water. An occasional treat (once a week) may
be given. A few recommend treats are, sweet potato, broccoli, carrot, or
other vegetable. No corn though as it may cause health problems later on.
Unfertilized, chemical-free grass may be given free choice and is enjoyed
greatly. Since they require a low-fat and low-protein diet, do not feed them
nuts or seeds (very high in fat). Do not feed them monkey biscuits or lab
blocks (they are high in fat and may contain corn). Dairy products and chocolate
are not recommended either.
There are many considerations to take into account before
acquiring a prairie dog such as:
Commitment - Prairie dogs are social animals. They cannot
be caged without social interaction from you. Consider a 8 to 12 year commitment.
Time - Having the time to supervise them when let out of
the cage is very important as they must be let out frequently (preferably
every day). They are gnawers and burrowers and will chew your couch, carpet,
doors among other things so supervision is a must.
Patience - Most are captured wild and you must have patience
for taming them and then, they may still bite during their rut season (it's
their nature and you won't change it) so be prepared.
Money - Although they are pretty sturdy, are you willing
to pay vet fees if necessary, purchase a suitable cage and create a safe
environment with electrical cord covers, etc...
Family Members - They normally bond to one person and will
defend that person's immediate area. Over time they will usually get along
with other family members but they can sometimes be unpredictable. This pet
is not suitable for a child.
Other Pets - Most will get along with other family pets
like dogs, cats, etc.. Must be supervised though.
Vet Care - Is your vet experienced with prairie dogs? If
not, is he/she willing to learn and work with you to ensure their best care?
If you take the time to bond with your prairie dog, they
will make wonderful, dedicated and loving pets. Each has their own personality
and temperament that makes them unique (hence the use of the words; most,
usually, and normally in the above considerations).
Note: It is advised to always check with a licensed veterinarian
experienced with prairie dogs as to specific care information and for updates
to their recommended diet as we are still leaning more about them.
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