Prairie Dogs Quiz: How Much You Know?

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| By Angela
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Angela
Community Contributor
Quizzes Created: 1 | Total Attempts: 103
Questions: 29 | Attempts: 103

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Prairie Dogs Quiz: How Much You Know? - Quiz

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Questions and Answers
  • 1. 

    The healthy weight for an adult prairie dog is 1 to 4 lbs.

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    The average healthy adult PD weight: females- 2 ¼ - 2 ½ lbs , males- 2 ¼ - 2 ¾ lbs. Bear in mind that this is an average weight for prairie dogs. Every prairie dog is unique and this may not be applicable to all prairie dogs. For example, you may have a runt of the litter and they would fall below these "normal" weight ranges. These types of things need to be taken into consideration when determining your PD's optimal weight. If you are concerned about their weight, please consult with your vet.

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  • 2. 

    Prairie dogs hibernate.

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    Prairie dogs do not hibernate in the true sense of the word. However, they can go into a temporary, semi-dormant state known as torpor (a controlled reduction in body temp and metabolic rate for less than 24 hours) if the conditions are extreme. So never assume that your prairie dog is dead if they don't respond to being nudged! They could just be in a state of torpor.

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  • 3. 

    Odontoma is a minor condition in prairie dogs and is treated easily. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    Odontomas are a very serious condition in prairie dogs! In fact, they can be life-threatening! It is a condition where a bony growth grows at the base of a tooth after a trauma to the tooth and the growth can impede into the sinus cavity which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the PD to breathe since they are obligate nose breathers. If caught early, there's a possibility you could get it removed but because there are no standard practices with exotic vets on how to surgically remove it, it is a very risky surgery! The best way to avoid an odontoma is prevention. See our files section for more information on this horrible condition!

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  • 4. 

    The behavior of a prairie dog always changes after being neutered or spayed. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    Often times people will get their prairie dog fixed in order to eliminate aggressive behavior during the rut. This does not always happen! There are factors to consider, i.e. Age, sexual maturity, etc. Discuss all of these factors with your vet or someone you trust before making this very important decision.

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  • 5. 

    You should get an x-ray 2 years after any trauma to the tooth of a prairie dog. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    The concern after a prairie dog has trauma to their tooth ( for example a broken top incisor) is that an odontoma will grow. Actually, an odontoma can be detected as early as one year after the trauma so it is recommended to get an x-ray one year after the trauma and then annually thereafter.

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  • 6. 

    Cage plucking, breaking incisors and/or chewing on wood can cause an odontoma. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    A. True
    Explanation
    An odontoma is a bony growth at the base of the root of the tooth which impedes on the sinus cavity and because prairie dogs are obligate nose breathers, meaning they cannot breathe through their mouth, this is a huge problem! Unfortunately and sadly not all exotic veterinarians know how to deal with an odontoma. The most aggressive way to deal with an odontoma is to surgically remove it. Unfortunately, many surgeries are experimental still. And sadly, many PD's have died because of this horrible condition! The best course of action is prevention!

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  • 7. 

    Prairie dogs are easy pets because they require very little attention. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    As I've mentioned before, in my opinion, pet stores see prairie dogs as a commodity and therefore they may give you incorrect information. Prairie dogs require a lot of attention! They need to be made to feel like they are part of your home because in their mind, they are a part of your family. This means to put the cage in a centrally located place in your home where there is a lot of activity. They also need to be taken out of the cage and held and petted oftentimes. Also, they do not do as well alone as they do in pairs. That is not to say that you cannot own a sole, lone prairie dog. You can. They just prefer the company of another prairie dog.

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  • 8. 

    The prairie dog's nearest relative is the squirrel. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    A. True
    Explanation
    Prairie dogs are a member of the group Rodentia (which is characterized by upper and lower pairs of ever-growing rootless incisor teeth).

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  • 9. 

    Prairie dogs are like rabbits and have many litters each year. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    Prairie dogs are quite the opposite, actually. They have one litter a year which consist of approximately 3 to 5 pups.

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  • 10. 

    It is impossible to breed prairie dogs in captivity. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    It is not impossible to breed prairie dogs in captivity. However, because they are a prey species it is extremely difficult and we do not recommend trying it.

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  • 11. 

    Prairie dogs can be litter trained. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    A. True
    Explanation
    Prairie dogs can be litter trained. However, not all PD's take to it. Check out the litter training document in our files to get more information.

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  • 12. 

    The best diet for your prairie dog is similar to what you would feed a guinea pig. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    Although many pet stores tell prospective prairie dog owners that a guinea pig diet is perfectly fine for a prairie dog, that is not true. Many of the ingredients in guinea pig food are not healthy for a PD.

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  • 13. 

    You should feed hay to prairie dogs in hay bins. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    PD's should get free-range hay (apx 3-4 times their body size). That means that they can eat anytime they want. Although the hay bin may be a helpful addition to stimulate their foraging need, it should not be the main source of their hay.

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  • 14. 

    It is okay to give prairie dogs treats like gummy bears or cookies (they're so cute eating them)! 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    Even though it is extremely cute to watch a prairie dog eat a gummy worm, it is not healthy for them to eat them. There is a high incidence of obesity in captive prairie dogs due to overly doting and unknowledgeable PD parents.

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  • 15. 

    Prairie dog treats can include popcorn. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    Never feed popcorn to a prairie dog! It is very bad for their digestive system. The only kind of corn a prairie dog should eat is fresh corn, either on the cob, or not. And that should be done as a treat only.

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  • 16. 

    In captivity, prairie dogs usually live approximately 5 years. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    Many pet stores will tell you that a captive PD's lifespan is 5 years. This is not true. The reason, in my opinion, that they tell you this is because a prairie dog is a commodity to them. The sooner the prairie dog dies, the sooner you come back and buy another one. In truth, the average lifespan for a prairie dog in the WILD is approximately 5 years! In captivity, given proper nutrition and caging, prairie dogs can live well into their teens! The average lifespan for a prairie dog in captivity is around 8 to 10 years.

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  • 17. 

    A prairie dog can be very aggressive during rut. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    A. True
    Explanation
    This is very true! Especially in male PD's! And especially in male PD's where there is a female present. We strongly advise that you learn as much as you can about prairie dogs' behavior during the rut and approach your PD with extreme caution. We also strongly urge you not to let small children handle your prairie dogs during a rut. And finally, a great tip is that if your prairie dog turns his butt to you during rut season, be prepared! That is a sure-fire signal that he's about to bite!

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  • 18. 

    It doesn't hurt when a prairie dog bites. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked the question, "does it hurt when he bites?" And I always respond the same way, "look at his teeth! Yes! Of course, it hurts!" With that said, not every time a prairie dog bites means that they're going to sever a finger. It just means that yes, it hurts and so, be careful when handling your prairie dogs and be extra cautious allowing small children to handle your prairie dogs.

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  • 19. 

    It is okay to let children play with prairie dogs. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    This is a tricky question to answer and the reason that I chose False as the answer is because as a blanket statement, you should not let your children play with prairie dogs UNSUPERVISED. We have many members (I'm one of them) that have had prairie dogs since their children were very small and those children have never been bitten. However we also have members that have had prairie dogs in similar situations and their children have suffered severe bites, not to mention emotional trauma! Just exercise caution and common sense. My suggestion is to never, ever forget that these beautiful creatures we have come to love and adore are still wild animals! And sometimes they behave like wild animals no matter how much we like to think we have tamed them. We strongly urge you to never let children play with PD's unsupervised. Better safe than sorry.

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  • 20. 

    Wood is good for prairie dogs because it helps them to keep their teeth trimmed. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    This is a myth that oftentimes new prairie dog owners fall victim to. When prairie dogs eat hay (which should make up approximately 98% of their diet) they are using a type of chewing action called bruxing. Bruxing is when the top and bottom teeth move back and forth against each other and this action is what keeps their teeth filed down. So if you are giving them the proper amounts of hay, you shouldn't have to worry about their teeth being filed down. They will be doing it naturally. It is when PD's are given the wrong diet (like guinea pig food for example) which requires a different type of chewing action that does not wear the teeth down. Again, pet stores want to sell you more pelleted food so this is a myth that they don't have a problem perpetuating.

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  • 21. 

    Prairie dogs don't need to be caged 24/7.

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    A. True
    Explanation
    PD's enjoy being a part of your family and allowing them out of their cage to play with you is something they would definitely enjoy! With that said, we strongly urge that "free roam time", which is often what it is called, should obviously be supervised and you should do your very best to prairie-dog- proof your home. This would include things like not having wires exposed that they could chew on in their play area or things that they can climb on and potentially fall from ( this is especially important since PD's lack depth perception but love to climb!).

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  • 22. 

    Prairie dogs can be leash trained. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    A. True
    Explanation
    I was astonished and thrilled to learn that PD's can be leash trained! It does require a special leash (there aren't any leashes specifically for PD's on the market yet) and not every prairie dog takes to it, but PD parents often report a great amount of joy from having their PD's leash trained.

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  • 23. 

    Prairie dogs do not get along well with other animals.

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    PD's can make strong bonds with other animals if the animals are introduced properly to the prairie dog at an early age. This includes cats, dogs, and other domestic animals. The one pet that you should probably avoid is a ferret. This is because in the wild, ferrets are one of the main predators of prairie dogs!

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  • 24. 

    Prairie dogs are a prey species vs. Predator.

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    A. True
    Explanation
    Knowing that a prairie dog is a prey species can be very helpful in caring for and understanding a PD. For instance, when you first bring a prairie dog into your home, they will think of you as a predator.. Like a hawk or a coyote or a ferret and react accordingly..they will be afraid that they're going to be eaten and will go into "defensive" mode which can include biting. This is the reason that we encourage new PD parents to learn about proper integration of a new prairie dog. Without going into details, basically it is how to get your PD to trust you and not think you are a predator. This takes time and patience but pays off when done properly! Once a prairie dog learns that you are no longer to be feared, they will eventually accept you as one of their own.. Another prairie dog. This is the most rewarding and wonderful feeling ever.. To be thought of as a prairie dog!

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  • 25. 

    Anytime a trauma occurs to the tooth, a prairie dog will get an odontoma. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    An odontoma is a bony growth at the base of the tooth and can grow big enough to impede on the sinus cavity, which can impede on the PD's breathing. It can occur after a trauma to the tooth, but it doesn't always happen. Just because your prairie dog breaks an incisor, that doesn't mean that they are definitely going to get an odontoma. It is just something to be very aware of and cautious about.

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  • 26. 

    Prairie dogs molt/shed once a year. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    B. False
    Explanation
    In the wild, black tailed prairie dogs molt twice a year, usually once in the Fall and once in the Spring. However due to unnatural lighting and temperatures in a captive environment, this can vary.

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  • 27. 

    Male prairie dogs tend to snuggle more than females.

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    A. True
    Explanation
    In the wild, typically the females are the workers of the group.. So it makes sense that in captivity females would be more interested in building things than in sitting on your lap. With that said, there are always exceptions to the rules and this is actually not a hard-and-fast rule.. More of an observation.

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  • 28. 

    Prairie dogs commit infanticide. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    A. True
    Explanation
    According to Dr. John Hoogland, who has been observing prairie dogs in the wild for around 44 years, "in the wild, the mortality rate for males is high." This is due to infanticide among the group. We have a very interesting article written by Dr. Hoogland in our file section if you're interested in learning more about this phenomenon.

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  • 29. 

    Prairie dogs are selective herbivores. 

    • A.

      True

    • B.

      False

    Correct Answer
    A. True
    Explanation
    "Selective feeding" is defined as food procurement in which the animal exercises choice over the type of food being taken, as opposed to "filter-feeding", in which food is taken randomly. Basically, prairie dogs choose the most nutritious parts of the hay to eat and discard the rest. What this means, in layman's terms, is that you will be throwing away a lot of hay! Don't be discouraged if the amount of hay in your bin doesn't decrease as much as you think it should. Prairie dogs are just picking the best parts of the hay. You should still give them fresh hay daily and discard the soiled hay.

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