Prairie Dogs. They were the first stop on the Ecotour of the National Grasslands Park. There is a large Prairie Dog town that stretches on either side of the road through to the Rest Area and a little farther along camping, if you want to stay in the Park. Their whistles fill the air and they will stand on their hind legs to get a good look at what is coming. These guys weren't overly alarmed by our presence; I think they are used to the invasion of humans along the groomed path through their town. There are five species of prairie dog but these cuties are the the black-tailed. They don't truly hibernate but go into a lower energy state and live from their accumulated fat. With the rain in the grasslands this year, there is lots of food. The prairie dog mainly consumes seeds and vegetation but also eats some insects and worms. They themselves may be preyed on by coyotes, hawks, foxes and rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes and burrowing owls may use their holes. Prairie dogs are an integral part of the grasslands. If badgers, coyotes, and foxes are to survive, prairie dogs are needed. Black-footed ferrets, horned lizards and rattlesnakes are given a better chance at establishment if there are prairie dogs present.
These cute rodents are quite large ground squirrels, measuring as much as 16" and weighing 1-3 lbs. There is marked sexual di-morphism, meaning the males are quite a bit larger than females. They are chubby and not built for speed. From behind, their little butts bobble when they run. Their gait reminds me of my own when I try to lope along.
I've been married a long time and often write about everyday events.