Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C: Coteries


The Front Range of Colorado, where I live, is home to some of the largest active black-tailed prairie dog colonies in the state. It has been estimated that prairie dogs once occupied seven million acres of Colorado grassland. Their numbers are much smaller these days, due to land development, agriculture, and disease (including plague). But their presence is vitally important to prairie ecosystems. "At least nine species of wildlife depend on prairie dogs, another 20 opportunistically use prairie dog colonies, and an additional 117 wildlife species likely benefit from prairie dog colonies to meet their biological needs." (Prairie Dog Coalition)

Despite the name, their only association with dogs comes from the barking sounds they use to warn each other of predators. They make lots of other sounds, too. According to Con Slobodchikoff, Northern Arizona University prairie dog linguist (this is not a late April Fool's joke, I promise), prairie dogs have one of the most advanced systems of communication in the animal kingdom. 


Prairie dogs are social animals and live in family groups called coteries. Open space in town is harder to come by these days, but two of our natural areas--The Coterie and Prairie Dog Meadow--provide habitats for these little guys and gals. (Sorry, my pictures aren't great, but hopefully you get the idea.)


13 comments:

Graciewilde said...

Prairie dogs have always intrigued me - maybe b/c of their name and b/c they are foreign to me. To my knowledge, there are no prairie dogs in NorCal. Your piece makes me even more curious!

Vikki (www.the-view-outside.com) said...

Just stopping by to say "hi" from the A-Z Challenge list :)

Awwww, they're so cute! See, I've learnt something today by visiting your blog. Great post honey, good luck with the rest of the challenge :)

xx

myriteofpassage said...

Wow, thanks for the introduction to these ingenious animals. I've heard of them before, but being from Africa I don't really know them. When I did some more research, I came across this amazing Youtube video - hope you don't mind me sharing it here:

http://youtu.be/icaGIeOY9gc

Thanks for stopping by MROP -Belinda.

Kathy Skinner (Kat) said...

Great information! I am going to share it with my granddaughter!

Elliot B said...

I am fascinated by Prairie dogs. Quite remarkable creatures when you consider the vast colonies and work they do together. We as people could probably learn a thing or two. I liked your post. Looking forward to "D".

Elliot
We Are Adventure

Susan Kane said...

Amazing little creatures. I wonder what their mazes and tunnels look like on a schematic?

lizy-expat-writer said...

"To meet their biological needs" is presumably a euphemism for "as food"?

David List said...

That's awesome. Great pictures. I can't help but see a parallel in the word coteries and arteries.

Spacerguy said...

Your pictures are great in 3D. Prairie dogs really are cute little creatures. I bet they play havoc with perfectly kept lawns, bless their little souls.

todayithink said...

I remember watching the Walt Disney Show (many years ago) on Sunday nights and one of my favorites was about Prairie Dogs.

Patricia Stoltey said...

They are interesting to watch and there are plenty of opportunities to do that when hiking in our area.

J.L. Campbell said...

We don't have them here. They look kinda cute.

Rita A. said...

We were in Lochbuie a few years ago and there is a huge prairie dog village. My husband was stunned. He said he'd never seen them. I grew up in Kansas and he grew up in Arizona. I never realized he was so deprived.