Common name: Utah prairie dog

Scientific name: Cynomys parvidens

Other names: None

Identification: Cinnamon to clay in color with a short, white-tipped tail. Utah prairie dogs have a dark eye stripe, are 12-14 inches (30-36 cm) long and typically weigh 1-3 lbs. (450-1,350g).

Habitat: Found only in 3 areas of Utah, they occupy valleys and mountain plains that maintain lush vegetation.

Food: Grasses and forbs.

Reproduction: Breeding season begins after emergence from hibernation in March-April. Gestation is 28-30 days and 3-6 pups (average 4) are born. Utah prairie dogs breed only once in a year and begin breeding at 1 year old.

Behavior: Utah prairie dogs hibernate for 4-6 months of the year but are sometimes seen during the winter months if the weather is mild. They are colonial like other prairie dogs but not as social as black-tailed prairie dogs. Family units are loosely organized of an adult male, several adult females and their young. Densities range from 1-30 prairie dogs per acre (1-12 per hectare) dependent upon habitat conditions. Diurnal (active during the day) and spend most of their time foraging and watching for predators (badgers, coyotes, raptors, fox, weasels). Utah prairie dogs can live up to 8 years.

Conservation status: Poisoning, land conversion and plague have reduced Utah prairie dog populations an estimated 87% from 1925-1975. Utah prairie dogs were listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act in 1973 and later reclassified as a threatened species in 1984. In 2011 the US Fish & Wildlife Service denied reclassification back to endangered status. Recently there has been much conflict with urban developers and golf courses.


Recommended resources:

Utah Prairie Dog (Cynomys parvidens) Status of the Species by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. 2010.
Utah Prairie Dog Recovery Plan by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. 2010.