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Prairie dogs pups emerge from their burrow


Visitors to Franklin Park Zoo will notice a number of tiny new faces as 15 small prairie dog pups recently emerged from their burrows to explore the world above ground.

The pups’ birth date is estimated to have been around April 1. Pups are born blind and hairless, and do not make an appearance outside of the burrow until they are about six weeks old. The pups can now be seen exploring the exhibit alongside the adult prairie dogs.

“Now that the pups have emerged from their burrows, the prairie dog exhibit is a flurry of activity. It’s hard not to be amazed by these incredible little creatures as they scurry about and explore. Prairie dogs are highly social animals and it will be fascinating for our guests to watch the pups grow up,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO.

Black-tailed prairie dogs are not actually dogs at all. They are small, stout, tan rodents with a lightly white or buff-white belly. They have short black tails, small ears, dark eyes and long claws used for digging.

Black-tailed prairie dogs are found in short-grass prairie habitats of western North America, from southern Saskatchewan down to northern Mexico. They form complex, widespread underground burrow systems, and avoid areas of heavy brush or tall grass due to reduced visibility. Prairie dogs live in what are called towns or colonies. These colonies are further divided into territorial neighborhoods called wards. Within the wards are coteries, which are family groups comprised of a male, one to four females and offspring under two years old.