Note: This is a copy - Modified by Steve R. Adams

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As Lewis and Clark explored the grasslands of the Midwest, they encountered thousands of mounds and what they call “barking squirrels”. A strange site and difficult to explain, the group decided to capture one of these unusual creatures and send it to President Jefferson. This proved to be a difficult task as the prairie dog would scurry into one of their hundreds of burrows at the first sign of peril.

Not realizing the vastness of the prairie dog network of tunnels the travelers attempted to capture one of these furry creatures by digging into the mounds, only to come up empty handed.

After other attempts a prairie dog was captured when the explorers poured several barrels of water into the labyrinth to flood one of the animals out.

The captured prairie dog began its long journey to Washington. A boat ride down the Missouri River to St. Louis was followed by a transfer to another boat, which took him down the Mississippi River. The destination was New Orleans. Now aboard a ship this rodent traveled up the Atlantic Ocean to Baltimore. A wagon ride and three months after capture, the prairie dog reached Washington. After meeting with an amused President Jefferson, the prairie dog was placed on public display in Philadelphia.


Statistics A REAL Prairie Dog The Art Center's version of a prairie dog
Adult Height approx. 12 inches 5 foot
Adult Weight 1-3 pounds (males 15 % heavier than females) 150-200 pounds depending on artist's creativity
Taxonomy burrowing rodent, related to the squirrel, called "barking squirrels" by the Lewis and Clark expedition team member of the public art family, related to the cows of Kansas City, Las Vegas & New York, the angels of Los Angeles, Charlie Brown & Snoopy of St. Paul, love seats of Chicago, and J Doe of Omaha
Nourishment grasses, other plants, occasionally insects; feed above ground during the day no nourishment required, sustained by oohs and aahs of humans, photo ops, and conversations with small children
Species black-tailed, Gunnison's, Utah, white-tailed and Mexican painted, sculpted, tatooed, pierced, split, clothed
Habitat large colonies, also called towns or villages.  Burrows are anywhere from 6' - 15' deep and 30' - 100' long, contain turn-around spaces and a nest refered to as "the nursery" Siouxland, Tri-state area.  Sioux City, South Sioux City, North Sioux City,  LeMars, Emerson, Norfolk, Vermillion, Yankton among others
Mounds prevent flooding, provide higher stance for prairie dogs to watch for preditors, encourages ventilation underground fiberglass sphere provides higher stance for the Prairie Dog to watch for tourists and the return of Lewis and Clark
Family Groups called coteries called siblings
Breeding as many as 26 prairie dogs may live in one coterie containing one breeding male, 3 or 4 breeding females, and seveal non-breeding yearlings and juveniles the genesis began with an 18 inch Murray the Model Prairie Dog, by Martin Wanserski, associate professor of the sculpture department at USD, Vermillion.  With Murray as a model, Wanserski then engineered the 5' version of Murray.  Breeding (fabricating) takes place in Omaha at Composite Structures,  Inc.  The facility can "birth" 2 prairie dogs per day.
Life Span males - up to 5 years; females - up to 8 years males and females are equally immortal
Predators coyotes, bobcats, badgers, black-footed ferrets, golden eagles, prairie falcons and humans vandals, chain saws, buses
Endangered Mexican prairie dog is endangered, the Utah prairie dog is threatened not currently on either the threatened or endangered list
Sleep Habits nocturnal never sleep, entertain the public 24/7


Al Harris-Fernandez, Director
Extension 212

Jill I. Collins, Administrative Assistant
Extension 208

Sioux City Art Center
225 Nebraska Street
Sioux City , IA   51101-1712


Last Modified by Steve R. Adams on September  29, 2003; 14:40 UTC (9:40 am CST)