Little tiny prairie dogs…

The place is crawling with them, about the size of small chipmunks. I think of prairie dogs as field-ruining plague-carrying vermin, but around here they’re like yard squirrels.


It’s funny to watch them, though – out in the driveway using the side wall as a blind. When I packed to come here I considered and rejected the idea of bringing those iPhone lenses Big Brother gave me, and regretted the decision my very first full day here. With a long lens and a tripod I could get pics, but really not without. They cavort all over the place at all times except when they detect an outdoor human.

Wish I knew what variety they are. They’re too small to be black-tail, which is the only kind I’m familiar with. So far the Internet isn’t much help.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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9 Responses to Little tiny prairie dogs…

  1. Joel says:

    Nope. I’ve got lots of ground squirrels at home and these aren’t like that. These are burrowing short-tailed rodents that live in family groups. Prairie dogs, but chipmunk-small.

  2. Jack says:

    Is there one somewhere in that picture you posted?

  3. Robert says:

    Jack:
    You couldn’t find it either, huh? Perhaps Joel means us to look at the style of digging for a clue.
    Chipmunks and ground squirrels deposit dirt from their ecavations in different fashions. IIRC, chippies don’t leave evidence at the entrances, whereas the other little guys are more devil-may-care and let the dirt fall where it may. Although, I could be mis-remembering…

  4. Joel says:

    Is there one somewhere in that picture you posted?

    I couldn’t get a picture of a dog that even showed up, they’re so small and well camouflaged.

  5. terrapod says:

    Put a leaf of fresh lettuce about 10 inches from the hole and sit off to the side very still with camera at the ready. You will have maybe 1 second to snap the pic when it comes to get the meal. 😉

  6. I would have guessed spotted ground squirrels. But then I did some research. The round-tailed ground squirrels (Spermophilus tereticaudus) mentioned by terrapod seem to be the best candidate species.

    “The round-tailed ground squirrel is a social animal. Although it resembles a tiny prairie dog, and shares some of its habits, the two animals are not related. The round-tailed ground squirrel is light beige colored with a long, black tipped tail. It weighs only 6 or 7 ounces (170-200 g)…. Round-tailed ground squirrels are social, living in small colonies. They hibernate through the winter months, emerging in early February to take advantage of the new spring growth to regain the weight they lost over the winter. Round-taileds breed shortly after coming out of hibernation; the average of 6 to 7 young are born in the middle of March or April. By May the youngsters accompany the mother to the surface. Mother squirrels emerge first in the morning, checking the area for predators, then call the youngsters out. The young come spilling out for several hours of wrestling, playing, and feeding, then the whole family retires to the burrow until late in the afternoon when temperatures again start to cool. Round-taileds often stand on their hind legs trying to get a better view as they watch for their many predators. Because they’re very dependent on succulent vegetation for moisture, these squirrels estivate for a few weeks during the summer drought, until the summer rainy season again brings new growth….”

  7. Joel says:

    Okay, maybe. Tails are shorter than the one in the picture, though.

  8. Az Karl says:

    Juancito. All over Tucson and similar locations in Arizona (3 hills in my yard now.). Hell on ankles if you aren’t careful. Big fun with a pellet gun and a cooler full of beer at about 15 yards. They will play whackamole for hours, and pellets fly loose enough to make it fair challenge. Fun to watch, sadly they love to dive into the tires thinking they are a dark refuge when a car catches one on a road.

To the stake with the heretic!