Theodore Roosevelt National Park
"Prairie-dogs are abundant...:they are in a shape like little woodchucks, and are the most noisy and inquisitive animals imaginable. They are never found singly, but always in towns of several hundred inhabitants; and these towns are found in all kinds of places where the country is flat and treeless." Theodore Roosevelt
(quote take from the official Theodore Roosevelt National Park website)
Our first official stop in Medora, North Dakota was to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We decided to take the south loop since the entrance is right in Medora, North Dakota. Not too far into the loop we encountered our first, and probably the largest prairie dog town we saw in the park. These little guys are a hoot. We stayed quite a while, listening to them chirp, run and poke their little heads out of their holes. The whack-a-mole game must have been invented by someone who viewed a similar scene.
Fascinated by these little guys I did a little reading on them. They are actually quite remarkable. Cousins to squirrels, they form close family groups and they have a complex system of communication that will signal different types of predators. They seem quite harmless and skittish, but there are several reports of prairie dogs biting people. They have super sharp teeth and claws and they aren’t afraid to use them if they need to.
I am not sure what kind of bird it was, but it kept harassing the little rodents, to which they would chase it off, only to have it come back a few moments later. A few horses meandered through in the distance. I couldn’t help but wonder how they missed all of the little burrow openings. They were everywhere.
How many miles of tunnels did they have underground? What kind of shenanigans occurs underground? Yeah, I kind of want to know. Back to Google. National Geographic states that typically a prairie dog town covers less than half a square mile, but some have been larger. The largest recorded prairie dog town covered some 25,000 square miles. That Texas town was home to perhaps four hundred million prairie dogs. I am not a fan of rodents but these guys were pretty cute. But as usual we must move on, there is a vast park out there that we need to explore.
To view more of my images from the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, just click the link.