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Happy Prairie Dog Day
Prairie Dog Pup

Sure – seems like everyone is celebrating Groundhog Day today – but at iTwixie, we are celebrating our friendship with prairie dogs and cheering for Prairie Dog Day!

Prairie Dogs are friends of iTwixie. We have been celebrating them for years! Why? Well, they are a social, cute keystone species, who many on the prairie see as a nuisance. But they really are the reason why other animals can thrive on the prairies. Without the prairie dogs, many animals would be in danger, along with a bunch of grasses and other plant life. We have been learning about the prairie dog for years, alongside the worldwide expert in prairie dogs, Dr. John Hoogland, and his team from the University of Maryland. We stand with the prairie dog!

So that’s why we cheer on our friends, the prairie dogs! Speak up! Their lives are in danger! So join in and let’s hear it for the groundhog’s cousin, the prairie dog, and celebrate Prairie Dog Day today!

Thank you, Denver Zoo, for thinking of this cool day! This is our 7th year celebrating with you!

Happy Prairie Dog Day!

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Prairie Dog Predator Challenge
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All three of the predators are dangerous to prairie dogs. But which one of them is the most dangerous? That was last week’s Prairie Dog Predator challenge. Did you take it?

Here is the answer!

According to the Prairie Dog Squad, here are the number of captures or successful attacks for each of these dangerous predators so far this year, at Dr. John Hoogland’s research site in New Mexico. See if you were right about which of these predators is the most dangerous:

1) The Bobcat captured 3 prairie dogs

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2) The Golden Eagle captured 11 prairie dogs

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3) The Coyote captured 18 prairie dogs

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Wow! The COYOTE is the most dangerous predator this year! Were you right? Are you surprised?

 

(Photo Credits: Paul and Jill, goingslo, jack_spellingbacon, victoria burman)

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Join the Jr. Prairie Dog Squad
Prairie Dog Pup

YOU CAN BECOME PART OF THE PRAIRIE DOG SQUAD!

All you have to do is help the Prairie Dog Squad, led by Dr. John Hoogland, figure out how many prairie dog pups are going to be born this year on his study site. Ready?

Here are the facts:

  • There are 229 adult prairie dogs. 123 of these are females.
  • Females usually have litters 1-7 prairie dog pups in a litter, and the most common litter size is 4.
  • To guess how many pups will be caught and marked this year, just  multiply the number of females (123) times the average number of pups in a litter (4) and then factor in the variables.

Variables:

Variables? Yes, variables. Variables are facts that can change the way things normally work. So with prairie dog pups, you need to know that:

- Not all female prairie dogs have litters.

- Not all pups survive and come above ground so that they can be counted – sometimes they get sick or predator gets to them first!

So give it some thought and see what you think. How many prairie dog pups do YOU think our team of researchers will count this year?

[gravityform id="48" name="Pick your prairie dog pup estimate out from the ranges listed here:" ajax="true"]

You can become a Jr. Prairie Dog Squad Member! All peeps who enter an estimate will earn this uber cool Prairie Dog Achievement:

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(Photo Credit: harmi2009)

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Prairie Dog Predator Challenge
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The Prairie Dog Squad knows that these 3 predators attack prairie dogs.

 

1) The Bobcat

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2) The Golden Eagle

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3) The Coyote

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Your Challenge is to tell iTwixie which predator you think is the most DANGEROUS to the prairie dog.

All you have to do to take this Challenge is to write which predator you think is the most dangerous in the comment section below. Everyone who enters a name will win the Prairie Dog Challenge Award! So how do you think you can figure this out? What makes a predator most dangerous? Do you think it has to do with how many times it attacks the prairie dog town? Or how many prairie dogs it attacks? Hmmm…

Be sure to stay tuned because in July, the Prairie Dog Squad, led by Dr. John Hoogland, will let us know which predator was the most dangerous and why. Which one do you think it will be? Get your challenge answer in now!

(Photo Credits: Paul and Jill, goingslo, jack_spellingbacon, ZionNPS)

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A Prairie Dog Like You
Prairie Dog Family

Over the years, iTwixie has studied prairie dogs with our special BFFs from the Prairie Dog Squad, led by Dr. John Hoogland. And wow, do they have big news. Sure, you already know that prairie dogs are social, that they give hello kisses to each other and that they have a really charming warning call to alert their whole prairie dog town about danger. But now there’s more news!

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The Prairie Dog Squad bets you can guess what it is! And so here’s this week’s STEM Challenge: From everything you know about prairie dogs, guess which of these is true about prairie dogs, when all of their family members go away:

1) True or False? Prairie dogs wander around like nomads, so they don’t notice if their family is around or not.

2) True or False? Family is everything to a prairie dog. Even cousins are considered family. So when some of a family goes, so goes the rest of the family!

3) True or False? If a prairie dog’s family leaves, the one that’s left behind will just wait for them all to come back.

Just enter your answer in the comments section.  All entries will be put into a drawing.The winner will get a cool, Day of the Girl t-shirt! It’s the last one! The winner will be announced next week, March 19.

Good luck! And give our peeps from the Prairie Dog Squad a huge Shout Out right here!

(Photo Credit: Elaine Bond)

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Take the Prairie Dog STEM Challenge!
Prairie Dog Pup

All you have to do to take the Prairie Dog STEM Challenge is to make your hypothesis — or an educated guess – about how many prairie dog pups will come above ground this year. Don’t worry! You get some help!

There are no WRONG educated guesses… they’re all guesses! That’s because NO ONE KNOWS how many prairie dog babies have been born. Not even the Prairie Dog Experts!

Here’s how YOU can make an educated guess:

Use what we know:

  • There are 12 prairie dog litters.
  • There can be between 1 and 8 pups in each litter, but the average number of pups in a litter is 5.
  • 75% of prairie dog pups born actually come out of the burrow.

This means:

  • The largest number of prairie dog pups would be 12 x 8 = 96.
  • The smallest number of prairie dog pups would be 12 x 1 = 12.
  • The most likely number would be 12 x 5 x .75 = 45.

Now you can make what scientists call an educated guess. An educated guess is really just a guess. But it’s not a random guess. It’s a guess that’s based on some good thinking and good data. That’s why it’s called an educated guess. And now you’re ready to make yours. Any guess between 12 and 96 is a good guess. We will all have to wait until all the prairie dog pups come above ground to know the correct answer.

The Prairie Dog Experts think the prairie dog pups will start coming above ground in late May. iTwixie will keep you posted!

Get guessing and enter your educated guess in the comments section below! The girl closest to the actual number of pups this year will get a SURPRISE!

You go, girls!

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iTwixie Studies Prairie Dogs: Week Seventeen and Final Week

 

The prairie dog expert team uses stuffed badgers in a life-like pose, like the one below, to find out how prairie dogs react to badgers.

smiling_stuffed_badger_on_sled to show tweens study prop.
Photo Credit: Kathleen Eddy

 

Prairie dogs react the same way to both live and stuffed badgers! So this week the researchers will be conducting more experiments with this stuffed badger.

What do you want to know about badgers and prairie dogs?

If you have missed any of the prairie dog study, you may wish to go to Week 1 and work up or start at Week 16 and work back. Jot your questions down right now and we’ll answer them next week — it’ll be our last week of our study!

Researcher Notes:

  • Female prairie dogs with babies are most likely to give an alarm call when they see a badger. But many males also call. Least likely to call are females who did not have any babies.
  • As baby prairie dogs get bigger, they sometimes call as well.
  • We spotted a ring-billed gull this week.

Thanks, Dr. Hoogland, and your prairie dog expert team for sharing their pictures and videos with us!

Next week we’ll wrap up our study and give you some cool info on the prairie dog expert team and the professor who leads this study.

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