Prairie dogs?

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tati121

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Dec 9, 2010
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Does anyone on here have a prairie dog as a pet?? Or have had one in the past? I came across an ad in CL (I know, I know!) and I'm curious about these little guys. Their owner seems to really care about them since he wrote a HUUUUGE post about them. I've been looking around on the internet for information but the PD community is severely slacking on their forums!

Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks :)
 

greychins

NWI Chinchillas
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Feb 1, 2009
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Hammond, IN
I have one. He is quite the character, haha. What is it you'd like to know?

I haven't been able to find a lot of info either, but having one gives a personal perspective so maybe that'd help?... When I was given the prairie dog (he came to me at the same time when two chinchillas were surrendered to the rescue), the original owner referred me to a website regarding prairie dog care, and the one I typically refer to is http://www.prairiedoglover.com/pdcaresheet.htm. But I haven't found any very active prairie dog forums.

Let's see... some general stuff about him... he loooves to dig and burrow in his shavings, so he makes about as much of a mess as a chinchilla, if not more. The cage I have him in now has shavings at the bottom and a hidey house. He will literally pick up the shavings in his mouth and sort of barricade himself in his hideyhouse so that there's a wall of shavings in the opening of the hidey house. I had him on fleece liners for awhile (because he'd push all the shavings out of the run), at least while he was in the run, but he is much happier with shavings and being able to burrow his way in them. He sleeps either curled up in a ball or sometimes on his back.

Mine has bites and scars all over his back/rear end from where the dog and cat would bite/scratch at him when he was "let out to play." I'm not even going to comment on the stupidity of that owner, he has a LOT of scars. It doesn't seem to affect him much though, he still seems friendly and sweet to me, so they're probably even better than this if they're not tormented by their owners. I was originally told that you literally could not touch prairie dogs between October and May... because of breeding season or something like that. I can't say Shiloh likes being picked up, per se, but he does like scratches and he does let me pick him up without taking my hands off. That said, I did take it slow with him and didn't pick him up without gloves until I'd had him for several weeks, because I've read that often people need stitches when they get prairie dog bites. I've also heard they're one-person pets... but I think a lot of that has to do with how much people interact with them. When I first got him, he'd raise his head every time I'd go to pet him, which makes most people draw their hand back.. but time goes on, and he got used to me and now I can reach in and scratch him no problem. Just lots of talking to him and stuff.

I have some videos of Shiloh on my youtube - http://www.youtube.com/user/greychins. Please excuse the fact that he was kept in a run (he is now in his own multi-level cage), I was not expecting to get a prairie dog when I got a call saying someone wanted to surrender some chins and I didn't have another cage ready.

I don't have any pictures at the moment of him in his new cage, and I can't take any right now (I'm moving and he [and the rest of the pets] are already staying with relatives until the move is complete at the end of the month). But here's some pics from before.











ETA: thought of something else. If bored, they are highly destructive.... and creative. In the run, he would push the pan out. I had to hold it in with springs. He broke several large 1" split rings that I was using to hold the door closed. Between the time he was in the run and then in his actual cage, I put him in a Ryerson? holding cage. He literally ripped the wire from the wood where it connects at the top (I'm going to have to somehow re-do the entire front of the holding cage if I ever want to use it again) and practically de-hinged the door in the week he was in that holding cage. He would grab the door and shake it, and could wake the dead with the sound. It was nothing like when the chinchillas grab the door and shake or chew on the bars, this was ridiculous.

However....that said.... now that he's in a 3 level cage and has his hidey house and shavings to burrow.. he does none of this. The doors are actually "looser" than the doors on the runs, but he doesn't mess with them or try to get out, I assume cause he's not as bored.
 
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ChinnyMom

slave to Rhino and Guss
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awwww, what a chubnik cutie pie you have there greychins!


'rutting' i believe is what it's called when they're foul tempered for a period of time. but maybe domesticating (even partially) takes it out of them?

interesting about the ban on them due to monkeypox and other illnesses!
 

greychins

NWI Chinchillas
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Hammond, IN
awwww, what a chubnik cutie pie you have there greychins!


'rutting' i believe is what it's called when they're foul tempered for a period of time. but maybe domesticating (even partially) takes it out of them?

interesting about the ban on them due to monkeypox and other illnesses!
Thanks!

Yeah, that sounds about right, with the rutting. I don't know about if domesticating them takes it out of them.... maybe? I feel like he's gotten calmer as he's more used to me, but I think if I put him back in the run or the holding cage, he's return to those repetitive/destructive behaviors. The things he did remind me of how you see tigers pacing when they're in too small of a cage--the same sort of mindless destructive behaviors. The people I got him from said he was 2 years old and that they'd had him for 2 years, so I assume they got him from a breeder when he was a baby (but who knows, I could be wrong).... but I know some prairie dogs are wild caught.... and those I could definitely see rutting until they get used to people and their much-smaller-territory (cage).
 

tati121

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Dec 9, 2010
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NYC
Thank you so much for such a wonderful reply! That care sheet is exactly what I was looking at when I first googled them. I've never really heard of them being kept as pets so I was shocked when I came across the ad on CL.

Would you say that they're a difficult animal to take care of? I only have my 1 chin so I'll have time for more pets but I want to be able to give them (it's 2 bonded male PD's) a furever home if I do decide to take them. I e-mailed the owner to see if I can come by and check them out since I've never seen them in person, I'm very curious!! Here is a video the owner made of his little cuties!

Oh man I'm getting more and more tempted as time passes!
 

Megan

Dot lives forever!
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PA
He is cute. PD's have always been on my list of pets I'd love.

Please do your research, takes a certain person to own these guys and deal with the attitudes they can have :)
 

Marie5656

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Apr 20, 2009
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Rochester, NY
How cute is that!! But I thought I read somewhere that it was not legal to have as pets in the US?? That was several years ago, so maybe the law has changed??
 

ChinnyMom

slave to Rhino and Guss
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the ban on them was lifted in 2008.

excerpts from wikipedia:

In mid-2003, due to cross-contamination at a Madison, Wisconsin-area pet swap from an unquarantined Gambian pouched rat imported from Ghana, several prairie dogs in captivity acquired monkeypox, and subsequently a few humans were also infected. This led the CDC to institute an outright ban on the sale, trade, and transport of prairie dogs within the United States.[19] The disease was never introduced to any wild populations. The European Union also banned importation of prairie dogs in response.[20] While largely seen by exotic pet owners[who?] and vendors[who?] as unfair, the monkeypox scare was not the only zoonosis incident associated with prairie dogs.

Prairie dogs are also very susceptible to bubonic plague, and many wild colonies have been wiped out by it.[21][22][23][24] Also, in 2002 a large group of prairie dogs in captivity in Texas were found to have contracted tularemia.[25] The prairie dog ban is frequently cited by the CDC as a successful response to the threat of zoonosis.

Prairie dogs that were in captivity at the time of the ban in 2003 were allowed to be kept under a grandfather clause, but were not to be bought, traded, or sold and transport was only permitted to and from a veterinarian under quarantined procedures.

On September 8, 2008, the FDA and CDC rescinded the ban making it once again legal to capture, sell, and transport prairie dogs effective immediately. Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 174 Although the federal ban has been lifted, several States still have their own ban on prairie dogs in place.
 

Laurie

I heart Leonard
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Tats if the owner cares about them so much why is he getting rid of them? I would wonder about that.

Grey, that little guy is cute as heck! Are they social--do they like to be held and pet? He seems to have very long nails and I wonder about getting scratched by them.
 

Andrea

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Jan 18, 2011
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I think they're cute but I knew someone who had a whole colony of them and they are not really good "pets." They are wild and really don't take too well to handling, not to mention they can spread diseases to other animals (including humans). I have a SMALL list of which exotics I think make good pets, and prairie dogs, though ADORABLE, will never be on that list.
 

Megan

Dot lives forever!
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I really don't think a PD is going to spread more illness and disease then your average pet.

Yes, they were banned due to monkey pox HOWEVER they were not the animal that was responsible for the outbreak, and was handed the short end of the stick IMO. They contracted the virus..but so did humans... we didn't ban humans!

I think these guys can make awesome pets, but you need to be willing to deal with them and the specific care they need. Those who have had experiences and owned these guys think they are amazing. Just like chins/hedgies/dogs/cats/lizards etc aren't cut out for everyone, neither are these.

I would love to own one of these guys one day, however I live in a very stupid state.
 

Andrea

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They are banned in PA? I hate the exotic ownership laws here but as long as the PA game commission is involved it'll never change. That's a whole other thread tho. I just know like any exotic they require specialized care and the owner I knew said they are high maintenance. I would never get a pet that seems cute just based off of how adorable it is...exotics are a major undertaking. My fiancé wants a sugar glider and I keep saying nooooo way...plus I think they are illegal in PA...
 
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