Meadow dogs – increasingly becomes a pet. Everyone wants to stroke the pretty and pretty rodent, as well as observe their behavior. It is very important to know how this animal lives, how it eats and how it behaves.
Meadow dogs: Description
A meadow dog represents an ordinary rodent that belongs to the protein family. The family is quite numerous, which includes very diverse species of animals, which not only differ in appearance, but also have common features of the structure of their body.
The protein family consists of three types, such as:
- Wood protein.
- Ground protein.
Meadow dogs are precisely to ground species. If you translate the name from the ancient Greek, then the name sounds like “dogmy”. If you pay attention to their appearance, then they can be easily confused with marmots or with gophers. They are called dogs because they make sounds similar to the barking of puppies.
In natural conditions, 5 varieties of meadow dogs live:
- White-tailed meadow dog.
- Mexican meadow dog.
- The meadow dog of Gunnison.
- Black-tailed meadow dog.
- Youth meadow dog.
If you try to determine the appearance of a meadow dog by external signs, then this is completely difficult, since they are almost identical, although they have some 6 differences, for example, in the structure of the teeth. They also differ in the features of the sounds made. In the Mexican and black-tailed meadow dog, the tips of the tails are black, and the rest of the varieties are white. The nature of behavior, as well as their lifestyle, is also unequal, which does not affect their appearance in any way, so only an experienced specialist can determine the variety.
Appearance and features
As mentioned earlier, the meadow dog has a resemblance to marmots. The dimensions of these animals are in the range of 31-39 centimeters, with a weight of 1-1. 5 kilograms, although more massive individuals are also found. Males are larger than females. The meadow dogs have a fairly dense physique and look very well, which creates the impression of their slowness. The body is massive, but the tail and limbs are relatively short.
The color of the woolen cover is such that animals merge with the environment. The back area is painted in dirty yellow or yellowish-gray color, with reddish gleam. The belly area is painted in lighter shades, and the head looks more dark against the general background. On the chin and in the nose of the nose you can see white stains.
The head of the meadow dogs is rounded, while the muzzle is pretty pretty, with widely planted eyes of a dark shade, which are constantly examined around, studying the living space. The close teeth are quite large, and the incisors located on the upper jaw are relatively narrow. The ears are relatively small and their practical4Ki is not visible under a layer of wool. On occasion, meadow dogs load the food into the cloth bags.
The short paws of rodents are armed with long claws, while the third finger stands out especially, since it is longer. The claws are strong and sharp enough. Despite the small length of the limbs, they are quite strong, since they are intended for digging underground labyrinths. Wool grows on the soles of the paws. The tail length is slightly more than 10 centimeters, while the tip is painted depending on the species.
Where the meadow dog lives
The habitat of meadow dogs is associated with the territory of the North American continent, or rather on the territory of the prairies. These are quite extensive territories that extend from the southern borders of the Saskachevan province located in Canada, and then the habitat covers several states in the United States.
Meadow dogs live within the following territories:
- In Kansas.
- In Wyoming.
- In North and South Dakota.
- In Texas.
- In Nebraka.
- In Utah.
- In Montana.
- In Oklahom.
- In Colorado.
- In New Mexico.
- In Arizona.
These animals also live in the vastness of Northern and Central Mexico. The life of these animals is associated with semi-desert and steppe landscapes, devoid of thick vegetation: for these animals it is enough to grow low grass. The ideal habitat implies the presence of a water source nearby. These animals prefer not to settle in lowlands, where humidity is quite high for them. Meadow dogs were seen in a mountainous area located at an altitude of 3 thousand meters above sea level. They prefer to live as part of numerous groups in the holes dug by them. Underground burrows form entire underground cities located in several levels, where there is everything necessary for their life.
Interesting to know! Underground passages extend to a distance of up to four hundred meters in length and up to 5 meters in depth.
What they are doing is digging new holes.
What does a prairie dog eat
The body structure of prairie dogs is such that they give the appearance of fatness, although their diet mainly consists of food items of plant origin. Basically, these animals feed on grass, as well as seeds of various origins. To replenish their body with protein, prairie dogs eat all kinds of insects. The search for food is carried out near their holes.
The diet of prairie dogs includes:
- Leaves of plants.
- Runaways and buds.
- Plant fruits.
- Plants’ seeds.
In prairie dog habitats, grass density is low, so the ground is visible. In addition, so that nothing interferes with the overview of the living space, they carefully thin out the surrounding area from vegetation. Prairie dogs suffer from humans because they are food competitors for livestock. Man acts in such a way as to displace these animals from their inhabited territories.
Although they have cheek pouches, they do not use them to store food for the future, so their underground labyrinths do not provide food storage rooms. Some species hibernate to survive the winter, and some species stay awake eating whatever they can get.
When kept at home, prairie dogs can be fed:
- Fruits and vegetables.
- Grain crops.
- Dry grass (hay).
With the onset of autumn, prairie dogs happily eat fallen leaves. The diet of prairie dogs is similar to that of domesticated guinea pigs.
Character and lifestyle
Prairie dogs are social animals, therefore they live in numerous colonies numbering several thousand individuals. The peak of their activity falls on the daytime. During this period, they look for food for themselves, and also go about their daily activities. They can stand on their hind legs for a long time and, like ground squirrels or marmots, inspect the nearby territory.
Each colony represents a family of prairie dogs, which includes a male, several females, and their offspring. These animals always have a family idyll. They take care of each other every now and then.
Interesting moment! Each family controls a certain territory, while strangers are not allowed to the territory. As a result of conflict situations, weaker may lose part of its territory, albeit insignificant, no more than one meter.
The underground dwellings of meadow dogs are comparable to the ground labyrinths, which are characterized by high quality. They are protected from collapses or flooding.
An important point! The underground tunnels are quite functional and have a certain purpose: there are rooms for relaxation, rooms for the appearance of offspring, rooms in case ill-wishers appear in their dwellings.
In the underground tunnels, the meadow dogs have rooms where they go to celebrate need. When filling this place with feces, animals are digging new latrine. Their vital activity is quite organized and each of their family knows their responsibilities.
Responsibilities are distributed depending on the requirements:
- Safety, so they have their own guards.
- Construction, so there is a group of individuals that digs holes.
- The upbringing of offspring, therefore, the family has individuals who educate and teach the younger generation.
Meadow dogs are in constant contact with each other, while showing goodwill. In the process of communication with each other, they use a whole set of various sounds and gestures. It is not for nothing that meadow dogs are considered peaceful creatures that can be kept at home as pets.
Interesting moment! These animals, showing high related feelings, in relation to each other, are in contact with open mouths, which can be compared with kisses.
Black-tailed meadow dogs do not hibernate in winter, while it can even move in the snow. The remaining species, with the onset of cold weather, fall into a state of animation, but before that they actively gain weight.
How much meadow dogs live
It is believed that the extremely long meadow dogs live in captivity – at least 11 years with good care. In nature, the lifetime of meadow dogs is much less: the female lives up to 8 years, the male is only up to five.
Propagation and offspring
Specialists know little about the process of propagation of these animals. The animals are ready to reproduce after two years of life. Meadow dogs multiply only once a year. After successful fertilization, females bear their future offspring for one month, plus/minus a couple of days. After that, in April/May, offspring was born.
From 2 to 10 cubs, absolutely helpless, blind and naked. They begin to see, about a month later, after the birth, and after another month they become active individuals, leaving their hole from time to time. Around this period, the mother ceases to feed her cubs with milk, and they begin to eat adult food.
It is important to know! Meadow dogs have a very peculiar attitude to their offspring. They often leave their holes, leaving them to their cubs, and they themselves begin to dig new Nice. This is evidence of a great concern for the future of its offspring.
Grown males can form their families, and females remain in their family. Inhabited in conditions of wild nature, the life expectancy of meadow dogs is from 5 to 8 years. At the same time, females live longer. When maintaining at home, these animals can live for more than 10 years, which is associated with the lack of external threats.
Despite the peaceful and friendly nature of these animals, meadow dogs have a sufficient number of natural enemies. Various species of predators who live, both on Earth and in the air, are hunting for these cute animals. That is why their habitat is associated with collective survival in such difficult conditions, since the group of groups is much easier to fight predators. Having their own guards who tirelessly monitor the living space, meadow dogs manage to determine the approach of predators in advance, after which they quickly hide in their holes.
Meadow dogs are in wait for such predators as:
- Black-legged ferrets.
- Mexican falcons.
- Cave owls.
There is a developed network of communications between meadow dogs, which allows them not only to communicate with each other, but also to survive in difficult habitats. With the help of sounds, gestures and facial expressions, meadow dogs inform their fellow tribesmen that the predator is approaching, from which side he is approaching and how he behaves at the same time. Knowing which predator they have to meet, they choose ways to protect: they can quickly end up in a hole and sink to a significant depth, or they can simply climb into a hole and stay next to the exit. Often they simply move as close to the hole as possible.
An important point! Experts believe that in the level of intellectual development, meadow dogs are comparable to dolphins and even primates.
For meadow dogs, reptiles are a serious danger, which easily penetrate the underground labyrinths of these animals. In the stomachs of explosive snakes, the remains of meadow dogs were often found, which had not yet had time to digest.
Despite the presence of a large number of natural enemies, the main enemy of meadow dogs is a person, as a result of the life of which the world population of these unique animals has significantly reduced. These animals especially got from farmers, who believe that these squirrels deprive their livestock feed base. A person’s actions led to the fact that the number of meadow dogs has decreased many times.
Population and status of the species
The number of meadow dogs over the years, then increased, then decreased. In the 19th century, white immigrants appeared on the territory of the prairies, who exterminated a large number of natural enemies of meadow dogs. As a result, the number of meadow dogs has increased several times.
According to experts who are based on some documentary sources, about one hundred million individuals of such rodents lived in an area of 1 thousand kilometers of squares. They needed to eat something, and they began the devastation of the cultivated territories related to pastures and simply fields. The farmers had no choice but to provide fierce resistance to the huge army of rodents. Farmers began the destruction of animals in a particularly large number. As a result, the number of meadow dogs decreased significantly, so much so that the animals were on the verge of extinction.
Interesting information! As a result of the information, it was found that in 1905, up to eight hundred million individuals of meadow dogs lived on the territory of Texas. At the end of the last century, there were only a little more than two million of them, which was simply shocking.
The population was reduced as a result of the barbaric attitude of man to living nature. The fact that the number of these animals continues to decrease, despite a number of environmental measures, worries.
Protection of meadow dogs
If earlier the number of these animals was quite numerous, then in a short period of time the situation changed for the worse, and significantly. Currently, the number of some species is such that these animals can simply disappear from the face of the earth in the near future.
The problem is that a person acts only in his interests, forgetting that many living beings live on our planet. Two species of meadow dogs are listed in the Red Book – this is a Mexican meadow dog and a jet meadow dog. The Mexican meadow dog is noted in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of some Farm Farm.
The status of these animals indicates the smallness of the species, and also suggests that the number is constantly reduced. The main problems are associated with the life of a person who displaces animals from their inhabited territories. In our difficult time, a person makes attempts to maintain the number of meadow dogs, protecting them in the territories of various national parks, in order to then resettle animals in the natural environment in the previous areas of habitat. There is, although weak, but the hope that these efforts will be enough, and the number of meadow dogs will at least not decrease.
Meadow dogs are considered very funny, friendly animals of small size, which many are happy to contain at home. These fluffy animals cause a lot of positive emotions, which a person lacks in our time, filled with problems and stresses. These animals quickly get used to the home conditions of maintenance and come to contact with a person.
Recently, it has become fashionable to maintain various animals in his house, sometimes quite dangerous. Meadow dogs do not belong to dangerous animals, but whether it is worth seizing these animals from wildlife, especially since their number is too small. Since there is demand, there will be proposals. In any case, one should be responsible for the fact of the content of pets, as they require love from their owners, for which a person is not always ready. Often, such pets are sick, and then die only because the conditions of detention are not comfortable. All processes are launched by itself, which leads to sad results.
It should always be remembered that in nature everything is balanced and a person should not intervene in this process. Unfortunately, a person ignores many factors, which leads to negative consequences of human life.