|Endangered Species: Prairie Dog
A Christiansburg Elementary Project
Submitted by Sarah at Christiansburg Elementary School
Christiansburg, VA, U.S.A.
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
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.
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.
here for more information on the Prairie Dog!
Return to Mammals page.
If you would like to add to these Endangered Species
pages then email your contributions to Christiansburg
© copyright 1997
Last updated on October 30, 1997