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iTwixie Studies Prairie Dogs: Week Nine!
April 29, 2010


This is the picture that an ultrasound makes. It doesn’t look like a prairie dog fetus, but that black area, where the arrow is pointing, is the sack of fluid that surrounds the prairie dog fetus, or baby. Remember last week, how we learned that ultrasound works by bouncing sound waves off solid and fluids to make images?

That’s why the fluid sac makes a big black image; ‘cuz it’s fluid!

You need to learn a lot in order to be albe to “read” or understand the ultrasound pictures!

Just click on these links to catch up with what’s been going on with iTwixie’s prairie dog study:

Researcher Notes:
  • We captured nine females. All nine were pregnant. Two had 3 fetuses, two had 4 fetuses, three had 5 fetuses, one had 6 fetuses, and one had 8 fetuses. (WOW!) Next month we will compare the number of pups who come out of the nest burrows with the number of fetuses shown on the ultrasound.
  • The length of pregnancy for most white-tailed prairie dogs is 29 days. Before giving birth, the pregnant females eat above ground all day. On the day of giving birth, the female prairie dog spends long amounts of time in the nest burrow (5 to 6 hours usually!) The length of time underground per day slowly declines. After about 2 weeks the mother spends almost no time underground with her juveniles during the day, but she returns to the nursery burrow at dusk to spend the night there.
  • On Saturday, 24 April 2010, the first female gave birth. By the end of the week most of the females at our study colonies will be busy with nursing and defending their young babies.
  • It’s getting more important than ever to watch for (a) invading prairie dogs and (b) predations, or attacks, by American badgers and long-tailed weasels.
  • New avian (bird) sightings over the last week include barn swallow, Brewer’s blackbird, brown-headed cowbird, bufflehead, northern pintail, redhead, and turkey vulture.
  • We also saw a bunch of firsts! We saw our first grasshoppers, a mourning cloak butterfly (funny name, right?), and muskrat of the year.

Now, it’s YOUR turn:

Don’t forget to send in YOUR guess for how many prairie dog pups will be born this season! Just write your estimation below in the comment section! Remember there are about 34 female prairie dogs in this prairie dog town.

The girl with the closest estimate of pups born this season will get a prairie dog t-shirt. Woo hoo!


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