White-tailed prairie dog

This prairie dog can be found in the high mountain basins of the Western United States in grasslands and as their name suggests prairies. This prairie dog lives at a higher elevation than other prairie dogs, between 5,000-10,000 feet. White-tailed prairie dogs are considered spontaneous hibernators that enter hibernation each fall, adults become inactive in September while juveniles begin hibernation in between October and November. During hibernation small mammals reduce their metabolic rate by 90% of euthermic energy consumption. Lab studies have determined that they can hibernate at 7⁰C with continuous bouts of torpor that lasted 4-5 days interspersed with rewarming and euthermic arousals of about 1 day. Prairie dog species are considered facultative hibernators compared to obligate hibernating squirrels that have a larger number of their populations in hibernation and have longer durations of torporous bouts. When ambient temperatures were raised to 35⁰C, most of these prairie dogs were aroused while only a fraction of the deep-hibernating squirrels awoke, suggesting that prairie dogs can only enter a light torpor.

Our work on white-tailed prairie dogs so far!