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Make a Prairie Dog Town

Texas Panhandle

Prairie dog sentry on alert. Photo courtesy of John Herron.

Background:

Prairie dogs are very social and live in groups called "prairie dog towns." One of these towns can cover as much as 1,000 acres of prairie land in the Panhandle. The town consists of a series of connected underground burrows. The town is subdivided into "wards" and the wards are further subdivided into "coteries." A coterie consists of one adult male, up to four females, and offspring up to two years of age. Prairie dogs within a ward greet each other with bared teeth, which is a kind of a "kiss" and a form of recognition. They feed on grass and herbs during the cool hours of the day. During this time, they also greet and groom each other. A "sentry" prairie dog always sits at the opening to a burrow keeping watch. A bark is sounded as a warning for all to dive into their burrows until the "all clear" signal is given.

Materials:

Directions:

  1. Everyone design a prairie dog town for a single coterie of one male, three females, and ten offspring under two years of age.
  2. Share their drawings with classmates.
  3. Demonstrate yourr knowledge of prairie dog life by creating a large prairie town of many wards and sentries with their drawings on a bulletin board or wall space.

drawing of prairie dog town


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