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Utah Prairie Dog Cynomys parvidens


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Utah Prairie Dog
credit: Chin tin tin/CCSA

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Family: Sciuridae, Squirrels view all from this family

Description A small reddish or cinnamon-colored prairie dog with a white tail tip. Burrow entrances are marked by a mound of dirt.

Dimensions 300-370mm, 50-60mm, 460-1250g; / 290-370mm, 50-60mm, 410-790g

Endangered Status The Utah Prairie Dog is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as threatened in Utah. This prairie dog, which is the least widespread of the three prairie dog species that live in the U.S., dropped in number from about 95,000 in the 1920s to just over 2,000 adults in the 1970s. The decline can be attributed to two causes. The Utah Prairie Dog was squeezed out of its habitat by human settlement. Furthermore, it was deliberately eradicated from areas, largely by ranchers who believed it used up the forage needed by livestock and by farmers who felt that the prairie dog towns destroyed their cropland. This prairie dog's numbers have recovered somewhat, and it was downlisted from endangered to threatened in 1984. A special regulation allows farmers to kill a certain number of "nuisance" animals per year.

Habitat Grasslands & prairies

Range Southwest

Discussion Nest chambers are close to the surface, but they hibernate in winter in deeper chambers, 100-200cm below the surface. Feeds mainly on herbs and grasses. Population densities range from 0.4 to 12 per hectare, depending on habitat condition, but widespread human persecution has driven them out of 90% of their historic range. This endangered species is now limited to grasslands and flat plains in southern Utah.