Black-tailed Prairie Dogs in Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge
The Black-tailed Prairie Dog is one of the adorable animals that inhabit the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge and is one of two animals described by Lewis and Clark in their journals that documented their expedition.
The Black-tailed Prairie Dog is a rodent found in the Great Plains of North America from the Canadian to the Mexican borders. Before habitat destruction this species may have been the most common type of prairie dog in central North America.
These animals are one of the most ecologically influential species. They are known as “ecosystem engineers” because they influence the living and physical characteristics of their habitat through landscape architecture and their influence on the ecosystem.
Prairie dogs are also one of the most intelligent of rodent species. They use a sophisticated language amongst themselves — a system of vocalization, or ‘calls’, to communicate different things. They cry out to warn others about things such as approaching predators. Their calls even vary in tone to describe how big a predator is and how fast it is approaching.
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs are frequently exterminated from ranchland because they are viewed as pests. With disturbance to their natural habitat the prairie dog population has fallen significantly over time. The Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge is the perfect place for these icons of the prairie to live.
Learn more about the wildlife at the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge here!
Photo courtesy of Tringa Photography.