Home on the range?
In the early 1900s, as farmers and ranchers moved west, black-tailed prairie dog habitat was converted into crops and grassland for cattle.
Today, only small, scattered populations of prairie dogs are found mainly in protected parks and wildlife refuges.
The decline of the prairie dog threatens many other species. Their burrows act as homes for owls and badgers, and prairie dogs are a critical food source for many endangered animals.
Did you know?
Black-footed ferrets were once a main predator of prairie dogs. The ferrets lived in prairie dog burrows and hunted at night. So when the number of prairie dogs fell, the black-footed ferret population nearly died out.
Smithsonian Scientists At Work
With the help of National Zoo scientists, captive-bred ferrets are now being released into the wild!
To learn even more about prairie dogs and ferrets, visit our exhibit in the Small Mammal House.