Today, of course, is Groundhog Day...but in Colorado, we have prairie dogs, not groundhogs. They're very similar and part of the same family, but they are different. According to one website, groundhogs are bigger; prairie dogs prefer living in Colonies while groundhogs are more independent; and groundhogs are found throughout most of North America while prairie dogs are only found in the flatlands West of the Mississippi. And the animals are neither related to hogs or to dogs - they are both rodents. Groundhogs are sometimes known as woodchucks. Prairie dogs are sometimes mistakenly called gophers, but that is actually a different animal, too.
If you're interested in learning more about prairie dogs in Colorado, the Colorado Division of Wildlife has produced some interesting publications on these furry burrow dwellers:
- Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Surveys of BLM Lands in Eastern Colorado
- Black-Tailed Prairie Dog Study of Eastern Colorado
- Prairie Dog Conservation Strategy
- A Prairie Dog Home Companion
- Viewing Prairie Dogs
Also, be sure to visit the DOW's website to view their prairie dog species profile.
photo courtesy Colorado Division of Wildlife