The black-tailed prairie dogs commit infanticide, the killing of the juveniles of their species. Under normal conditions about 60% of the liters will not be affected by infanticide. Both fathers and mothers are killers and this behavior is more common in some years and not in others. The young victims are cannibalized or eaten; the sustenance is the probable reason for this malicious activity. Older females are less likely to abandon and cannibalize their own babies.
The success of black-footed prairie dogs can be measured by the time of molting or shedding of their pelages (coats of fur). Nearly all prairie dogs molt twice a year. Successful reproduction will designate a later molt in May or in September. Young non-breeding males and females have an earlier molt.
The molt begins around the eyes and continues to the tail in the spring. The summer molt is the reverse, beginning at the tail and traveling to the eyes and head. Some prairie dogs do not molt and the elusive cause appears to depend on health conditions.
The nearly weaned babies make their appearance above ground in May or June. Prairie dogs are the prey of many mammals. The avian predators devouring prairie dogs for lunch are various hawks, golden eagles, peregrine and prairie falcons and northern goshawks.
The obituary of a valiant prairie dog sentry:
PRAIRIE DOG, PAPPY JOSEPH
was born in the burrow of Prairie Dog Town on Terra Earth, April 29, 2010 and was snatched away to rest in the After Place September 13, 2015. He was the oldest of the four in his litter. Pappy Joe was a dedicated sentry. He used his extraordinary sense of sight and hearing to keep the coterie, his small family group, aware of the presence of the many dangerous predators.
The eagle strife was a harrowing event, but all colony inhabitants were able to dive down to safety. Pappy Joseph dropped into the listening room, waiting to call the “all clear” when the danger passed. He listened. Peeked then stepped out the entrance. []
The sharp, evil talons of the passing eagle snatched him off the cone-shaped mound. Pappy Joseph gave his life in the line of duty. His gentle manner and love of nibbling grasses will be remembered by all.
Pappy Joseph Prairie Dog will be honored as the Keystone Animal of the Prairie and Grasslands. The habitat survives through the efforts of many prairie dogs like Pappy Joseph.
In lieu of flowers please make monetary donations to the IOPD, Importance Of Prairie Dogs Fund.