- PRAIRIE DOG BIOLOGY
- NATURAL PREDATORS OF PRAIRIE DOGS
- PRAIRIE DOG DENS WILL CREATE PROBLEMS
- HOW TO KEEP PRAIRIE DOGS OUT OF THE YARD
- PRAIRIE DOG TRAPPING
- CONTACT US
Prairie dogs are small animals which inhabit the flat lands of central and western North America. There are several species on the continent; the most popular being the black-tailed and white-tailed. Other species in the same region include the Gunnisons and the threatened species, the Utah and Mexican.
Prairie dogs typically live in colonies known as “towns” and these towns can extend for several thousand miles! Needless to say, populations can and do reach numbers which put a strain on local vegetation. Because of this and other problems associated with large populations of prairie dogs, one must be careful when they start to colonize your property. It is suggested that you keep their numbers in check otherwise you can quickly be confronted with a population that becomes quite large.
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PRAIRIE DOG BIOLOGY ^
Prairie dogs are small animals, generally in the2-3 lb range, which have short strong legs designed for digging. Black tailed dogs can grow up over 4 lbs but are generally in the 2-3 lb size. White tailed dogs can grow almost as large but are most commonly around 1-3 lbs. Prairie dogs can create towns which can cover thousands of miles and include several million animals.
Large colonies like these are not common anymore due to the use of toxicants which were introduced in the mid 1900’s. During those times the programs implemented had a dramatic impact. As much as 98% of the population in treated areas were killed off and in some areas none were left. As concerns rose about the impact complete elimination might have, restrictions were put in place. The Mexican and the Utah species were then labeled as a threatened species. This labeling protected them from being hunted, shot, trapped and poisoned.
Natural predators like badgers, weasels and black footed ferrets were forced to find other food supplies; most adopted well but others like the ferrets had a hard time adjusting. Black footed ferrets soon became endangered as well due to lack of food. However, all species began a strong comeback in the 70’s which has continued through the millineum. At this time prairie dogs are ever increasing and with this population increase they are coming in conflict with man more and more.
PRAIRIE DOG DENS ^
Prairie dogs prefer open land with low vegetation. This allows them to survive predatory feeding. They will avoid tall grass and woodlands preferring low grasslands with little water. Prairie dogs will eat a lot during any one day. Most will consume their body weight in grass. They will also eat seeds, many species of grass, flowers, roots and insects.
PRAIRIE DOG TOWNS ^
Prairie dogs will eventually increase their number to create towns which are then broken down into coteries. A coterie usually has a male, several females and their offspring. Their towns will have 30-50 borrow entrances which usually have mounds that are on average 2 feet tall by 10 feet wide. These mounds serve as a lookout station and help to keep water out of their burrows during floods.
Prairie dogs are most active during the day. During summer they will feed in the morning and afternoon, leaving the surface during the hottest time to seek the cool of their dens. Though some hibernate during the winter, most are active year round and will surface even when snow has accumulated.
Most prairie dogs will live 5-8 years on average. Females can reproduce by their second year. Most litters will arrive as early as January but generally in February and March. Litters will have 4-8 pups which will emerge from their dens in late spring and early summer 3-4 months after they are born.
NATURAL PREDATORS OF PRAIRIE DOGS ^
Prairie dogs, like gophers, attract predatory animals. This list includes badgers, weasels, ferrets, coyotes, bobcats, hawks and fox. Snakes like young dogs as well. Vacant burrows will attract a host of animals all looking for a good place to live. Rabbits, rodents, reptiles, insects and several species of birds all like to be around prairie dog towns.
PRAIRIE DOG DENS WILL CREATE PROBLEMS ^
Prairie dogs become a problem when their populations and towns get established around urban property. Innocent at first, letting them live close to your land means they’ll eventually want to move onto your land.
Prairie dogs eat everything and this constant demand for food will deplete local vegetation much needed by livestock and other plains feeding animals.
As prairie dogs clear local food they will spread to new areas settling where food is readily available. This has long been one of the main problems associated with prairie dog activity; ranchers and farmers have a long history of combating the prairie dog over land use. Prairie dog burrows lend to rapid soil erosion as well. When coupled with big reductions in vegetation the landscape can rapidly change once they start living in any one area. Furthermore, burrows present a danger to livestock. Their holes can readily trip and injure unsuspecting animals or damage farm equipment.
PRAIRIE DOG DISEASE ^
Prairie dogs carry many types of bacteria including plague. This alone is reason to keep their numbers minimized around people. Furthermore, abandoned burrows become homes to rattlesnakes and a range of poisonous insects – including black widow spiders – will readily take advantage of the spaces inside their dens.
For this reason its advised that any activity around your home be addressed as soon as possible. Don’t let them multiply or get established close to where you intend on farming or using any land for recreation. Don’t let their looks deceive you; two or three prairie dogs will quickly become 10 and 20. Soon your turf will be destroyed and erosion will begin to take its toll. In the end you will have to remove the prairie dogs in order to stop the destruction and since it is so much easier to deal with the first few before they begin to reproduce, there is no good reason to wait.
HOW TO KEEP PRAIRIE DOGS OUT OF THE YARD ^
If there are prairie dogs in the region where you live and you’d like to ensure they don’t move onto your land, use repellents along property borders. In general, foraging dogs looking for a new place to live will ignore areas where they sense danger or where they’re not comfortable. We offer a few repellents prairie dogs don’t like.
PREDATOR URINE WILL REPEL PRAIRIE DOGS ^
The first is to set out a predator scent like COYOTE URINE. Dogs know this odor and will avoid where coyotes are marking territory so if applied before they’re on your land, it should keep them out. Plan on using 2 oz per 10 feet for 30 days of protection. Pints will treat 80 linear feet, 1/2 gallon will protect 320 feet and a gallon up to 640 feet.
The best way to apply it is to use 1-2 oz spread our along property borders. Use it on a tree, fence or right on the turf. Prairie dogs are constantly looking for food and know the risks associated with foraging. If they smell fresh coyote urine they will try to move in an opposite direction attempting to minimize the risk of having to come face to face with a coyote. The use of coyote urine is particularly helpful if you have fields or lots of land adjacent to yours which are not being treated. By placing urine along the property line you can create a “fence” which will keep the dogs out and away.
In general, applications will last 30+ days during normal weather patterns. But if you want the urine to last longer, protect them with LIQUID GUARDS. These plastic stations are staked in the ground and shelter the urine from rain and sun. This will allow the scent to last 2-3 times longer so they will effectively pay for themselves in very little time.
Space the large guards 8-12 feet apart along property lines. Each station has two sides which can hold 1.5 oz. Please .5-1 oz per side.
CAPSULE GUARDS are much smaller and can only hold about 1/2 oz. Use the included eye dropper to fill the capsule then cap it and “push” it into the ground making placements every 5 feet along property borders.
INSTALL SOUND REPELLERS ALONG PROPERTY BORDERS ^
Another effective way to keep them out of the yard is to install our SOUND REPELLERS. These units are very effective on prairie dogs to the extent that they can actually chase away animals already living in the yard.
By default, each machine emits an ultra sound people cannot hear. But prairie dogs are very sensitive to this sound. These can also be set to include an audible sound and you can run them only during the day or night or all the time. Our units come with a wireless “on/off” control so you can turn them off as needed. They also include a small power supply so you can power them with electricity.
So if you want to chase off current populations, you’ll need to use the unit with the included power supply brick. Power it to “always on” and turn the audible sound dial to “zero” as the ultra sound alone will be strong enough as long as the machine is on all the time. The sound will have an effective range up to 75 feet and can cover 4,000 sq/ft when used for prairie dogs. They are directional so make sure you have them pointed at their nest dens.
Plan on running the machine continuously for at least 2 weeks if you need to chase off prairie dogs already living on your land. Once they’re gone, you can power them with batteries and use the motion detector setting. Just remember the unit will need to be close to the ports of entry since it will only detect motion up to 25 feet away. When you power them on all the time, animals will stay away for 75 feet or more.
Mounting Blocks allow you to place units anywhere and they will save time too.
We also feature several accessories for our sound repeller including POWER CORD EXTENDERS (33 FEET AND 66 FEET), CIGARETTE LIGHTER POWER ADAPTER, ALLIGATOR CLIP POWER CORD and AC POWER SUPPLY REPLACEMENTS.
PRAIRIE DOG TRAPPING ^
If you prefer a more “permanent” solution, removing prairie dogs can be done with live traps or kill traps. Live traps might sound tedious but for small populations, its highly effective. With the right trap and bait, prairie dogs are easy to catch. From there you can either destroy or relocate the animal desired.
BEST LIVE TRAPS FOR PRAIRIE DOGS ^
Live trapping prairie dogs can be accomplished by placing traps alongside their dens.
The two best traps are either the LT5518RD or the LT7824. These are commercial grade and will last for many years. The LT5518 measures 5″ x 5″ x 18″ and features a sliding rear door making baiting the trap and releasing the animal easy.