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BellaOnline's Exotic Pets Editor

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Prairie Dog - Prairie Dogs as a Pet

Guest Author - Diana Geiger

The sale, trade, and capture of prairie dogs were banned in the early 2000's because of a monkey pox outbreak. The ban also included several species of African rodents. The ban was lifted at a federal level later when it was discovered most of the monkey pox outbreak was caused by other rodents. Though a few states are still totally uninformed and still ban the prairie dog. The prairie dog as a pet is again gaining popularity.

So remember, you have been warned, it is illegal to sale, exchange, capture, barter, and any word that means exchange - in some states. Prairie dogs as a pet is still thriving. I know many people with prairie dogs, and I donít have a single breeders name written on a piece of paper, on my hard drive, only on my personal hard drive; my brain. It is pretty easy to find prairie dogs for sale and prairie dog breeders, just Google it.

However, I don't agree with the ban that is still in existence to this day. Though a few prairie dogs did get monkey pox from the import of other rodents I think it is ridiculous to continue the ban on North American prairie dogs.

The prairie dog as a pet; prairie dogs make wonderful pets for the right people; this article is all about pet prairie dogs.

Why is the exotic pet prairie dog popular as pets? Because, when acquired young they are delightful, social little critters that make wonderful companions. I just spent two weeks submersed in the prairie dog world and I have to admit I am smitten.

There are two groups of prairie dogs, the black-tailed prairie dog, and the white-tailed prairie dog. They have a relatively long lifespan of 8-12 years. Because of the amount of socialization these little fellows need, having a prairie dog as a pet, is a serious commitment. You also have to take the fact that they are illegal very seriously, if caught they will be confiscated and killed.


Prairie dogs are very social animals. If you socialize a captive prairie dog (young pup) he or she will hunger after your attention, they will have to have that attention because they can whither up and die without this attention.

Prairie dogs can be quite mischievous and very stubborn; they can be destructive.

Here are prairie dog pictures, Photos by George Geiger You can see the mound that is above a series of tunnels and chambers, from birth chambers to a tunnel that leads to a chamber close to the surface. This is where they listen for danger alerting other prairie dogs to danger or an all clear signal.




Prairie dogs have their pups in the early spring so if a person was interested in capturing a young pup to rear as a pet the only time to do so would be in the spring.

Some of the downfalls of having a prairie dog as a pet is that they can become frighten and inflict a very nasty bite. They also have scent glands that produce a musky odor. Prairie dogs should be spayed or neutered. Non-neutered males can be very aggressive. Having a prairie dogís scent glands removed is not recommended, it can cause serious health issues. Males have a much stronger odor than females.

Prairie dogs are a rodent and with all rodents they have four incisors; two on the top and two on the bottom. These four incisors grow continually. They must have plenty of safe material to chew on. You will find a variety of toys for rodents to keep the teeth worn down.

Since the prairie dog is highly social, your first thought may be to have two or more prairie dogs as pets. If you want a close bond with your prairie dog this may not be such a good idea. They will bond to each other. Prairie dogs are territorial. You would have to introduce two prairie dogs to each other very gradually. Keeping the two animals separated will also give you the opportunity to bond to each of them before you begin introducing them to each to each other.

If you want more than one prairie dog, after you go through the bonding process, introducing females very gradually will usually work out fine. You donít want more than one male together, even if they should be neutered. You can also have one male with a group of females, of course, make sure they are all spayed and neutered, for obvious reason, in addition the health benefits of having these animals altered.

These are very active animals and they will have to have a large cage along with a large exercise wheel. They will need and enjoy a great variety of toys.

In the wild the prairie dog is always scampering about, looking for food, and playing. They get a great deal of exercise. In captivity it is very important to keep watch over weight gain. They will eat grass hay, vegetables, very limited amount of grains; the prairie dog is native to the plains, and is naturally able through a natural digestive system, to derive the amino acids they need to thrive. They donít need pellets, rodent blocks, fatty foods, or alfalfa hay. Prairie dogs will quickly become fat and you will sadly lose them to an untimely death if they donít eat what they eat naturally, and get all the exercise they need.

First cut Timothy hay is ideal for prairie dogs. Timothy based rabbit pellets without the antibiotics. Many rabbit pellets made for commercial breeders are laden with antibiotics. They can have timothy hay cubes, tiny slices of sweet potatoes, other fresh root veggies, fresh grass (making sure there are no chemicals). They should also have a fresh supply of filtered water.

As with all exotic pets and since this one is illegal in the United States, you will have to be more concerned with medical care. Before acquiring a prairie dog find a veterinarian willing to take care of the little fellow.

Pictures of prairie dogs Much like the chipmunk the prairie dog will use a "close pen stance" standing very straight and still. Notice he or she is sitting on the shadeís edge ready to alert the prairie dog community to potential danger.



Prairie dogs are unique in their communication skills; they not only use vocal communication, (warnings, and such) but also have a diverse body language, and communicate with scent from their scent glands.

They make delightful, distinctive pets for the right people. I do not recommend the prairie dog for families with young children, unless you are highly serious about proper supervision at all times. They are highly social; you must meet their socialization needs! You must have a great deal of time to invest in your exotic pet prairie dog, if they donít have their needs met they will grow depressed, get sick, and die. Prairie dog as a pet is a wonderful addition to your family IF you are right for each other.

Prairie dog video, YouTube prairie dog video

Here is the sweetest baby prairie dog video. baby prairie dog

My prairie dog Bear

More prairie dog videos
My pet prairie dog, Scamp YouTube video


Do prairie dogs get along with dogs and cats? Here is a darling prairie dog video with the prairie dog playing with a dog and cat. prairie dog, cat, and dog


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Content copyright © 2014 by Diana Geiger. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Diana Geiger. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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