About Prairie Dogs

There are five species of Prairie Dogs: Gunnison’s, Black-tailed, White-tailed, Utah and Mexican. All are imperiled and facing extinction. Together, they are considered a Keystone species: a species whose very presence contributes to a diversity of life and whose extinction will consequently lead to the extinction of other forms of life. Keystone species help to support the ecosystems or entire community of life of which they are a part. In Santa Fe, we are now working to help the Gunnison’s survive because the Black-tails have already been essentially eliminated.

Between 1996 and 2003, 200 acres of prairie dogs were lost to development in Santa Fe proper and in 2004, 2,560 acres were eliminated in the nearby suburb of Eldorado.  Of the 123 locations (considered too small to be called colonies) mapped in 2005 by The Prairie Dog Collective, 66 had been eliminated by 2008.  All of this despite the city resolution and ordinance that was passed in 2004, intended to stem the disappearance of prairie dogs from our region. Due to encroaching human sprawl, shooting, and federally sponsored poisoning efforts, prairie dogs now inhabit less than 1% of their traditional homeland.

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Anyone can feed a prairie dog. They eat:

Only lettuce and celery; leafy greens such as kale and spinach are not easily digested by prairie dogs.

Most root vegetables (carrots, beets, yams, turnips)

Peas, celery, corn on the cob

Vegetable pulp – not fruit pulp

On occasion, an apple, grapes or melon.

Mixtures of Black Oiled Sunflower Seeds and Three-Way grain without molasses

Timothy Hay (Grass Hay) – use at least some hay from March to May as it is used  for food and nesting material and again just prior to hibernation from September to mid October.

They do NOT eat:

Any fruit (except the above)

White potatoes

Cucumbers, Peppers, Onions or Chiles

Fresh alfalfa or Alfalfa hay

Alfalfa pellets

Sweet feed (e.g., grains with molasses.)

Food should be placed directly in each hole in this order:

1st: large handful of veggies.

2nd. 22oz. cup of seed & grain mixture.

If using grass hay, put veggies & mixture in and cover with grass hay.

Water bowls optional

Feed once a week after prairie dogs surface from hibernation somewhere between end of February to mid-March. They go into hibernation mid October.