Endangered Species: Prairie Dog

A Christiansburg Elementary Project
Submitted by Sarah at Christiansburg Elementary School
Christiansburg, VA, U.S.A.

Prairie Dog
Prairie Dog

Photographer Unknown

Why Study This Topic? What Was Already Known Search for Information Description of Plant or Animal Habitat Requirements
Adaptations Reasons for Endangerment Restoration Actions What Was Learned Conclusions from Research

Why Study This Topic?

  This is what I want to find out about the Prairie Dogs. What it looks like; what the Prairie Dog's habitat is; what it likes to eat; whether or not it is an endangered species; why it is called a Prairie Dog; is it related to the Ground Hog or a Gopher and, if it is, and how? I also want to know why they burrow in the ground; how many babys they have; what part of the country they live in; how big are Prairie Dogs; how many types of Prairie Dogs there are; and how old do Prairie dogs live to be?

What Was Already Known

  This is what I knew before I started to look for information about the Prairie dog: I knew that they eat grass and other plants. I also knew that they live on the great plains of North America. Their habitat is the Prairie and they burrow under ground. I knew they were brown and look like squrrels, except Prairie Dogs have a little tail.

 Prairie Dogs are mammals. The Prairie dog gets its water from rivers running through the prairie. I knew that the Prairie dog is a Verbrate because it has a backbone. I also knew that a lot of Prairie dog burrows is called a town.

 The Prairie dog is an endangered species because cattle are over grazing the land that the Prairie dog lives on, so they have no food. Another reason the Prairie dog is endangered is that we are taking their land and building on it, the Prairie dogs have no where to go so they die. They also die of drought, disease, and poisoning.

Search for Information

  This is the story of my search for information: the first place I seached was the Internet. I had to do a Net search to find the information on the Prairie Dog. It took me about 5 minutes to find a nice page of information on Prairie Dogs. I also found some information in the encyclopedia about the Prairie Dog. I found out why they're called Prairie Dog: because they make a crying bark. The other place that I looked was a library book, that was about mammals and I happened to flip to a page that had two different types of Prairie Dogs: one of the types of Prairie Dog was called a white tailed Prairie Dog. This trip for information has been hard because I do not used the Internet very much. So I had to ask my teacher how to find stuff on the Internet. We got to some stuff on Prairie Dogs, I learned lots of stuff on the Internet that I did not know. When I opened a book about mammals. I was surprised there were two different types of Prairie Dogs. One is a black-tailed Prairie Dog, the other one is the white-tailed Prairie Dog. The black-tailed mostly lives in Texas. I also looked in the encyclopedia, it was fairly easy to find a Prairie Dog.

Description of Plant or Animal

  The Prairie Dog is shaped like a squirrel without the big bushy tail. They have a skinny, short tail, they also look like a woodchuck but not so hairy. The color of the Prairie Dog is like light-brown dirt, its eyes are as black as night, it has black toenails and whiskers. Some have a little white on their tail, others have black on their tail. The Prairie Dog gets from 14 to 17 inches tall. The female Prairie Dog is shorter than the male.

Habitat Requirements

  Water is one of the things that Prairie Dogs need. The Prairie Dog gets its water from rivers that are around the prairie. The Prairie Dog eats grass and other plants growing on the prairie. The Prairie Dog's shelter is the burrow it makes in the ground. When a Prairie Dog sees a predator coming it scurries into its burrow. Its shelter keeps it warm and safe. The Prairie Dog lives in communities called "towns" and so need plenty of space for their many burrows.


  One of the predators of the Prairie Dog is the rattlesnake. Another predator is the coyote. When a coyote or a rattlesnake comes around the Prairie Dog town, a Prairie Dog gives a barking signal to let the other Prairie Dogs know that a predator is near. Once the others hear the signal, they go to their burrow where it is safe.

Reasons for Endangerment

  Because they are on the Endangered Species list, there is a law against shooting Prairie Dogs. They are dying because cattle are over grazing the prairie making the Prairie Dogs' food supply low. One of my ideas of preserving the Prairie Dog is to limit the amount of land cattle ranchers can have in the Prairie Dogs' natural habitat. Another idea to save the prairie dog is to set aside some land where the Prairie Dog could live safely.

What Was Learned

  When I searched for information, I learned that the Prairie Dog gives a barking signal when a predator is coming and then go into their burrows where it's safe. I also learned that they are called Prairie Dogs because they bark. I learned that they live in South Dakota and that they eat different types of grasses. I also learned that there are two types of Prairie Dogs.

Conclusions From Research

  Some neat benefits of looking up Prairie Dogs is that you learned something you didn't know. Another advantage of learning about endangered species is that you could write a book or put something up on the World Wide Web to interest people in helping to save all endangered species in the world by doing a tiny little thing like this.


Zim, H. S. and O. F., Hoffmeister (1991). A Golden Guide to Mammals, Golden Press: NY.
The New Book of Knowledge (1981). "Prairie Dog," Grolier Inc. Danbury, Conn. pages 430-431.

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Christiansburg Elementary
Last updated on October 30, 1997