Prairie dogs

More and more animals that used to be found only in their natural habitat or in zoos are increasingly considered pets and live in people’s homes. One of these is a delightful and curious animal: the prairie dog.

Its natural habitat covers most of the North American continent, from the south of Canada to the north of Mexico, where its colonies occupy large extensions of grazing land.

As with any other pet, you should make an informed decision about living with one of these animals. Prairie dogs live an average of ten years, they weigh between half and two kilograms, and may reach a length of 35 centimetres. They are diurnal creatures that require attention, time and care. An interesting option is having two of them. If you consider this possibility you should acquire both animals at the same time to avoid conflicts and fighting. Prairie dogs should be placed in a cage that is sturdy and large enough for them to be placed inside when they cannot be supervised: if they are left alone your furniture could suffer from their tireless chewing. The cage should contain tunnels or hiding places. The bottom of the cage should never be covered with cat litter (sepiolite or any other clay-based material). Sawdust is preferable.

As to their diet, prairie dogs need a variety of foods, including special pellets and a commercial grain mixture for rodents that may be purchased at specialized shops. They should be fed a variety of vegetables, fruit and alfalfa (either fresh or hay). It is also important to provide clean, fresh water inside a plastic drinking tube.

Prairie dogs reach sexual maturity when they are between two and three years old. The female is in season during two or three weeks between January and April. Pregnancy lasts for little more than a month, after which between two and ten pups are born.

It is very important to contact a veterinary surgeon specialising in exotic animals before acquiring these pets and gather information about their care and health issues. This way you will ensure that your new pet is in good health, so that living with such a special animal will not be a problem.

 

Did you know...

Properly filled in vaccination records should contain the name, batch number and “valid until” date of every vaccine and the signature, official stamp and official association number of the acting veterinary surgeon.

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