What Are Some Adaptations of Prairie Dogs?

Prairie dogs have developed several adaptations to ensure their survival, among which are strong hind legs, vocalizations and water subsistence through plants. These characteristics help them adapt to the dry, broad expanses of flat land in a prairie.

The prairie dog's main physical adaptation is its strong hind legs, which enable it to stand upright and scan the prairie for danger.

Other important adaptations are vocalizations, which signal danger, issue warnings and express pain. When the prairie dog spies a threat, it barks to warn other prairie dogs away. It makes a rasping sound right before an attack. It screams when in pain.

The prairie dog obtains water only through plants. This ability is critical to survival because of the hot and dry conditions of the prairie. The prairie dog uses its sharp front teeth to bite off the grasses it consumes for hydration.

A surprising adaptation is the burrow, an underground space divided into rooms. Tunnels connect the burrow to the surface of the prairie. The prairie dog digs its tunnels at an angle to prevent flooding. In the event of flooding, the prairie dog can wait for the waters to recede in a safe room above the tunnels. Other rooms are designated for storage and waste removal.