Saturday, November 29, 2008

MY NEIGHBOR, MR GOPHER


This is my neighbor, a Gunnison's Prairie Dog, also called a gopher. He lives in a colony in a field just behind the church, two blocks from my house. Many (maybe a hundred or more) live with him (or is it 'her?') in the colony. They burrow holes that can be up to 100 feet in length, complete with side tunnels and escape tunnels. This prairie dog (Cynomys gunnison) is normally a vegetarian and lives from 3 to 5 years. Farmers hate them because they eat the vegetation and roots of farm crops and ranchers hate them because of the holes they dig, which can easily trap and break a horse or cow's leg. I like them because of their antics and natural intelligence. They also remind me of a pet ferret I used to have. Most of the prairie dogs have burrowed in for their winter hibernation. In Janary or February they will mate and in the spring each female will normally produce 3 to 5 pups. I look forward to seeing my neighbors, with their newborn, then. Do you have any favorite wild animals living near you?

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