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iTwixie Studies Prairie Dogs
March 4, 2010


Study Site Location: Arapaho Wildlife Refuge in Colorado

What animal: White-tailed prairie dog

When: Early March 2010 through June 2010

Purpose: To learn when prairie dogs here stop hibernating, how much they eat, play and avoid predators, and how many babies this colony will have this Spring

White-tailed prairie dogs hibernate underground in Colorado.  Early March is when they begin to emerge from their burrows.  That is when researchers must be there to greet them.  Thus begins our adventure.

Week One: Arrival and Set-up

Researchers have arrived. As they move into their research homes, they must gather enough food and clothing to be able to work outside for 8-10 hours every day under cold conditions (20-30 degrees F).

This week they will:

  • Haul traps from storage
  • Mark burrows (like the PJ in the photo)
  • Build 6-foot (2-meter) tall observation towers
  • Observe which prairie dogs will come out of their burrows first?
These researchers want to know:
  1. Will the Prairie Dog Expert Team be able to do the hard work?
  2. Will it be too cold for the prairie dogs (or the researchers?)
  3. How many prairie dogs will come out of hibernation this year?
  4. Will coyotes and golden eagles attack these prairie dogs?
  5. What other predators will threaten this research site?
  6. How many prairie dog babies will be born this year?
Do you have any questions for the Prairie Dog Expert Team?
Thanks, Professor Hoogland, and the Prairie Dog Expert Team you’ve assembled, for bringing  iTwixie along on your quest!  We can’t wait for more!



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