prairie dogs? #438035 - Ask Extension


prairie dogs? #438035

Asked January 14, 2018, 11:40 PM EST

We live in Kings Valley at about 500 ft. Is it possible we have prairie dogs? I think there are a few living under our chicken coop. If not, something else very similar looking and not a ground squirrel. Haven't been able to snap a photo yet.

Benton County Oregon

Expert Response

Your question definitely came to the right guy.  I lived on the Great Plains in Kansas for a good portion of my college life, as a Zoology student.  I am very familiar with the Black tailed prairie dog and their living habits, and range.  I have spent many hours watching their behavior in the wild.

We do not have prairie dogs, in the wild, in Oregon.  Even on the Great Plains of the USA you would not find prairie dogs under a chicken coop.  They live in open prairie areas where they can see for long distances as this is their main form of protection from predators.  Prairie dogs are herbivorous burrowing rodents, native to the grasslands of North America.  There are five species of prairie dogs; the black-tailed; the white-tailed; the Gunnison's, the Utah, and the Mexican prairie dogs.  None of these animals are found West of the Rocky Mountains, or along the Pacific Coast.

There are several rodents living in our area that are found in the Coastal Range, including Kings Valley.  Without a photo, or seeing, the animal under your chicken coop, I hesitate to guess what it might be.  But I am sure it is not a prairie dog

Below I am providing three photos.  The first one is of a Blacktailed Prairie Dog; the second is a Grey Digger Squirrel; and the third is of a Mountain Beaver.  The latter two are rodents that may be found in our area.  The grey digger has a large bushy tail.  The Mountain Beaver has a short (1.5 inch) tail and can be as large as 20 inches in length.

Thanks for submitting this question to “Ask an Expert”!  If you can get a picture, or trap an animal, we will be able to identify what is living under your chicken coop.

Donald Lauer Replied January 16, 2018, 5:54 PM EST

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