Description Included in the same family as squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots, prairie dogs stick to the ground and prefer to live in open grasslands in order to keep track of potential predators. The animals gain shelter from harsh elements and predators by digging extensive underground tunnel systems. The existence of prairie dogs is instrumental in the survival of other prairie animals, like snakes, and owls, who also utilize prairie dog burrows for shelter. Appearance Prairie dogs usually weigh between 1 and 3 pounds and generally exceed a foot in length. Their coloration is reddish brown that varies in shade. Distinguishing characteristics include tail colors that vary between white and black. Only five types of the rodent inhabit the United States, including Gunnison's, white-tailed, black-tailed, Mexican, and Utah prairie dogs. The prairie animals have short ears, small rounded heads, and large eyes. Habitat In the U.S., prairie dogs mainly occupy lands west of the Mississippi River stretching across the Great Plains from northern Mexico up to southern Canada. The burrows of prairie dog colonies can grow to enormous lengths, though typical nests extend for only a few acres. Larger burrows can stretch on for a few miles. Entry Are prairie dogs known to enter homes or yards? It is very rare to see prairie dogs within manmade structures. Normally, people who complain of prairie dog activity report problems outside. If they find their way onto property, landowners can expect significant damage to landscaping. As social animals, prairie dogs congregate in large groups totaling hundreds or even thousands of individuals. Damage Do prairie dogs harm people or property? Prairie dogs are infamous for damaging range land with their burrows. The open holes in the ground are hard to spot, which can lead to accidents when livestock or people unknowingly step into them. Large farming machines can be damaged, as well. Additionally, prairie dogs clear vegetation in order to see approaching dangers. This is a problem for livestock and farmers attempting to cultivate land. The loss of vegetation gives way for undesirable plants to move in, as well. Control and Safety While the transmission of the plague via prairie dogs is rare, the rodents carry fleas that transfer the disease through biting. It is imperative to wear long sleeves and pants tucked into shoes when traveling areas of land infested by prairie dogs to avoid flea contact. Attempting to keep the rodent off of ranging land altogether is difficult, though a few options exist. While costly, fencing that is planted far enough into the soil helps prevent the existence of prairie dogs. This method is especially effective when used for home gardens and lawns. Trapping and Removal Due to their hesitant tendencies, prairie dogs are difficult to trap and remove. Do not attempt to remove prairie dogs without professional help. Critter Control specialists operate under the laws and regulations regarding prairie dog removal. Our technicians can safely navigate terrain and remove prairie dog pests humanely and effectively.