Soldier Bear & Tumbleweed
It was the usual story that started with a phone call from Animal Care and Control. They asked if we had permitting for prairie dogs, and we did! They had just confiscated two prairie dogs who were kept illegally as pets and wanted to know if we could take them in. At the time, we only had one prairie dog (our sweet Dandelion) and an empty prairie dog enclosure right next to her, so we instantly said yes!
When they were picked up at the animal shelter, they instantly greeted Mollie with their prairie dog greeting- a bark and a tap with their teeth. Prairie dogs greet each other in the wild by tapping their teeth together, which is known as the prairie dog kiss. This intimidates people sometimes, because if you don’t know this, you may think they are going to bite you, but instead they are just saying hello.
Soldier Bear & Tumbleweed are a bonded male and female pair, and they can continue to be housed together because Prairie dogs rarely breed in captivity, but we still got Soldier Bear neutered, just in case. In the wild they live in huge underground towns. The biggest town ever discovered was in the state of Texas and was the size of the state of Rhode Island! They need their huge social community to feel safe enough to have young. This valuable species helps crops grow by aerating the soil with their tunnels and they prefer native prairie grasses to crops. They are actually so important to their ecosystems that they are considered to be a keystone species, meaning without them, the ecosystem could not survive. But, like so many wildlife species, they are considered pests and are still destroyed in vast numbers, which is why Soldier Bear and Tumbleweed have the very important job of teaching people about prairie dogs and about their importance to the environment.