The Maryland Zoo announced its population of black-tailed prairie dogs has grown, as new pups have begun popping up from underground dens.
According to an organizational release,1 the “small, spunky rodent spend much of their time burrowing complex tunnel systems underground.” Born blind and without hair, these animals are at first completely reliant on their parents. They can spend up to 7 weeks nursing in an underground nesting chamber, and then start to come up above ground, taking careful steps to examine their habitat.
Both parents care for the pups underground, but when they emerge from underground they can nurse from any other female prairie dog.
Black-tailed prairie dogs are native to the western United States.1 Female prairie dogs have litters of 3-to-4 pups every spring. In the 1970s, prairie dogs were critically endangered but with conservation efforts, they are now considered a “species of least concern.” They are faced, though, with increasing habitat loss because of urban development, and declining population numbers because of eradication efforts by ranchers, and disease.1
Visitors can see these pups at the Prairie Dog Town habitat just inside the zoo’s front gate.
Prairie dog pups pop up at the Maryland Zoo. News release. Maryland Zoo. May 19, 2023. Accessed May 26, 2023.