Animal #41 — Black-tailed Prairie Dog

cyomys ludovicianus

Tuesday, April 30, 2002 — 5:46 pm

Pueblo County, Colorado — Lake Pueblo State Park

Lake Pueblo State Park was a reservoir on the Arkansas River behind a large dam. The area around the lake consisted of desert bluffs with some areas of scattered junipers and a lot of rocks. After birding on the south shore and below the dam, I drove along the north shore. Right along the road below the dam there was a flat area of about 20 acres with black dirt and scattered grass. I saw a few mounds in the dirt and two Prairie Dogs were moving nearby. One was down on all fours, scooting around on the ground. The other was standing upright on the mound. I stopped to look at them, but they were too far away for me to see the tails, the key feature of Prairie Dog identification.

I pulled forward a short way and saw another one along the road on the right. It stood upright and looked at my car, then ran down the bank into a grassy field. A few minutes later it ran back up the bank and across the road into the field where the mounds were located. It ran sort of hunched up, belly high off the ground, with a bit of sideways motion to its gait.

They had longer legs than a ground squirrel and were quite a bit larger than the Rock Squirrels I saw earlier in the day. Their faces were longer and their noses were boxier too. The fur was sandy yellow. The tail was about three and a half inches long and pretty scraggly. I was supposed to see a black tip, but it wasn’t obvious. It was hard to get a good look from the angles I had. When the one ran across the road, I did see that the final inch was darker than the rest, so they certainly weren’t any of the white-tailed species. Based on this, and the range, I figure they had to be Black-tails. They didn’t have any black fur on their faces. From the ones in the field I heard a yip-yip call.

This entry was posted in Mammals. Bookmark the permalink.