| The original range of the Mexican Prairie Dog has been severely squeezed by farming and cattle ranching. Colonies have been poisoned. Human pressures continue, and the species is endangered.
These social animals live in complex colonies. Their ideal habitat is deep soil that is free of rocks, which they find in mountain valleys or basins. Usually the land is covered with grasses and herbs, and often surrounded by desert vegetation. In this setting, they dig almost straight down for 3 or 4 feet and then begin digging horizontally. A male, female, and several young often share a burrow. They are active all day, rain or shine, winter and summer. They use the mound of dirt at the entrance as an observation post, to keep watch for hawks, coyotes, and other predators. Spotted ground squirrels and burrowing owls sometimes share the burrow.
Mexican Prairie Dogs have one litter a year. The gestation period is not known, but in Cynomys ludovicianus it is about a month, and the average litter size is 4 to 6. The newborn pups are hairless and blind. In 3-4 weeks they have fur; about a week later, their eyes open and they can run about. They nurse for 6 or 7 weeks, and by the time they are weaned, they chatter and give alarm barks. They are full-grown at 4.5 months.
Females slightly smaller than males
Head and Body: 280-330 mm; Tail: 80-115 mm
1,200 g 4 lab-reared males aged 4.5 months; 910 g 2 same-age females; 746.2 g pregnant female
Merriam, C.H., 1892. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 7:157.
Mammal Species of the World (opens in a new window).
Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account * (opens in a new window).
* PDF reader available here (opens in a new window).