Are you looking for an unusual pet? You may want to consider a prairie dog. These little guys are actually super cute! A Cedar Rapids, IA vet discusses prairie dog care below.
Prairie dogs are actually rodents. They are quite small, rarely weighing over 4 pounds, and can live up to 10 years with proper care. They can be very affectionate and friendly, but only if socialized properly as pups. However, you’ll need to handle your pet regularly to keep him tame.
Wild prairie dogs dig out tunnels and dens to live in. Because that burrowing instinct is so ingrained, these guys can get stressed out if kept in an area that isn’t suited for it, such as a dog crate. Ideally, you’ll want an outdoor space that allows for burrowing without escaping, such as a concrete, fenced-in area with three feet of dirt or soil added. (Understandably, this can be a dealbreaker for some.)
Prairie dog diets are actually quite similar to bunny diets, in that they need a lot of roughage. You can give your pet a pelleted prairie dog food. (You won’t be able to pick this up at a convenience store, so keep that in mind.) Supplement your little buddy’s main meals with fresh veggies, such as raw carrots and sweet potatoes; whole oats; and hay or hay cubes.
Keeping prairie dogs is not legal everywhere. Check local ordinances. Also, only buy from a licensed breeder.
Prairie dogs need fresh water. It’s worth noting that wild prairie dogs often get hydration from eating prickly pear cactus. It’s a good idea to grow some, if you can. Ask your vet for more information.
Prairie dogs are social animals, and do not do well alone. We recommend getting at least two. Only house same-sex dogs together, as otherwise they’ll breed. It’s important to remember that prairie dogs have not been domesticated very long. They can be excitable, and sometimes nip. Therefore, they are not suitable pets for children.
It’s important to find a vet that works with prairie dogs. Take your new pets to meet their doctor ASAP. While you’re there, ask for care advice, including diet, habitat, appointment schedules, recommended wellness care protocols, and signs of sickness to look for.
Do you have questions about prairie dogs? Contact us, your Cedar Rapids, IA veterinary clinic, today!