During your commute this morning you might’ve noticed something different about the empty lots you usually pass. Not only were they probably covered in snow, but the little furry friends you typically spot were nowhere to be seen.

I noticed this on my drive today when I passed a field I always check for prairie dogs, only to see that the chubby little friends were out of sight. This made me realize that I never learned what exactly prairie dogs do when it snows. Are they built to handle the cold? Do they continue to watch for predators? Or do they simply stay inside their tunnels?

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After a quick search online, I found the answer.

Apparently, prairie dogs spend the fall months preparing for the cold weather by eating extra food in order to build up a layer of fat to keep warm. Then they continue to live their lives, foraging, scampering around, and keeping an eye out for anyone that dares get too close to their home. However, things change when the weather gets extra cold or snowy.

On wintery days like today, the critters will stay in their tunnels and go into a hibernation-like sleep for however long the cold weather lasts. This helps protect them from the cold and avoids using too much energy during a time that isn’t great for finding food. It is also one of the reasons they put on extra fat in the fall so they can go a few days without food.

While many people view these little guys as pests, they are fascinating animals that live complex little lives.

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