Prairie Dogs as Pets

Prairie Dogs as Pets: Care Guide & Tips

Last Updated on January 2, 2024 by Arun Roy

Welcome to our comprehensive guide on keeping prairie dogs as pets! Prairie dogs can make affectionate and playful companions when provided with proper care and attention. If you have been considering these adorable creatures as potential pets, this article will provide you with all the information you need to know to ensure their health and happiness in your home.

Prairie Dogs as Pets: Core Insights-

  • Proper care and attention are essential for keeping prairie dogs as pets
  • They require a specific diet of Timothy Hay, fresh grasses, and a small portion of vegetables, fruits, and proteins
  • Regular bonding and socialization are crucial for developing a strong bond
  • Prairie dogs should be housed in a large and well-ventilated cage
  • Regular veterinary check-ups and a clean environment are important for their overall health

Lifespan and Size of Prairie Dogs

When considering prairie dogs as pets, it is important to understand their lifespan and size. These factors can greatly impact the care and commitment required to provide a happy and healthy life for these adorable creatures. In this section, we will explore how long prairie dogs typically live in captivity and their average size.

Lifespan of Pet Prairie Dogs

If you’re wondering how long ‘Prairie Dogs as Pets’ can live, the answer depends on various factors, including their species and the quality of care they receive. In general, pet prairie dogs, specifically black-tailed prairie dogs, can live up to 12 years in captivity. However, it’s essential to note that individual lifespan can vary.

Providing a loving and nurturing environment, along with a proper diet and regular veterinary care, can contribute to the longevity of your prairie dog companion. Regular check-ups and prompt treatment of any health issues are crucial in maintaining their overall well-being.

Size of Adult Prairie Dogs

Healthy adult prairie dogs typically weigh between 1 to 2 pounds. While they may seem small, their compact size is part of their charm. It’s important to consider their size when setting up their habitat and selecting appropriate housing.

Now that you understand the lifespan and size of pet prairie dogs, let’s move on to the next section to explore their dietary needs and nutrition requirements.

Diet and Nutrition for Prairie Dogs

To ensure the health and well-being of your pet prairie dog, it is crucial to provide a balanced and appropriate diet. A proper understanding of their dietary needs will contribute to their overall vitality and longevity in the context of Prairie Dogs as Pets.

Over 90% of a prairie dog’s diet should consist of two key elements: Timothy Hay and fresh grasses. Timothy Hay plays a vital role in their dental health, promoting proper chewing and preventing dental issues. It should be provided in large and unlimited amounts, ensuring it is readily available at all times. Fresh grasses, such as Bermuda grass or Kentucky bluegrass, supplement their dietary needs and add variety to their meals in the realm of Prairie Dogs as Pets.

The remaining 10% of their diet can include a combination of various vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins. This diverse selection helps provide essential nutrients and allows for a more enriched diet. Here are some suitable options:

  • Vegetables: Carrots, kale, spinach, bell peppers, and broccoli.
  • Fruits: Apples, bananas, berries, and melons (avoid grapes).
  • Grains: Oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and whole grain pasta.
  • Proteins: Mealworms, dry kibble dog food (high-quality), and small amounts of cooked lean meats (chicken, turkey, or beef).

It is important to avoid certain foods that can be harmful to prairie dogs. These include dried corn, chocolate, junk food, and sweets, as they can lead to digestive issues and other health problems.

Adequate hydration is essential for their well-being. Fresh water should always be available in a bottle, ensuring a constant supply and preventing dehydration.

For a visual representation of a prairie dog’s diet, refer to the table below:

Food GroupPercentage of Diet
Timothy Hay and Fresh Grasses90%
Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Proteins10%

Bonding and Socialization with Prairie Dogs

To bond with a pet prairie dog, you need to start by acquiring a young, hand-raised baby before they reach 10 to 12 weeks of age. This early age is crucial for developing a strong bond as the baby becomes familiar with you and its surroundings. Spending a significant amount of time with your prairie dog in the first few weeks after bringing it home is essential.

Prairie dogs are naturally affectionate and attention-seeking creatures, which makes them enjoyable pets to have. They have their individual personalities, but in general, they are social and loving towards their human owners. By providing them with love, care, and regular interaction, you can build a trusting and loving relationship with your prairie dog.

Here are some tips to help you bond with your pet prairie dog:

  1. Handle your prairie dog gently and regularly to familiarize it with your touch.
  2. Offer treats as rewards for good behavior to reinforce positive associations.
  3. Engage in interactive play sessions to stimulate their natural instincts.
  4. Create a designated bonding time each day to establish a routine and strengthen your connection.
“Bonding with a prairie dog requires time, patience, and consistent effort. With the right approach, you can develop a deep and meaningful relationship with your furry companion.” – Prairie Dog Enthusiast
Bonding with a prairie dog
Benefits of Bonding with a Prairie DogChallenges in Bonding with a Prairie Dog
1. Enhances trust and loyalty1. Prairie dogs may be initially shy or skittish
2. Strengthens the bond between owner and pet2. Time-consuming process to establish trust
3. Promotes socialization and companionship3. Individual personalities may vary
4. Reduces stress and anxiety in the prairie dog4. Communication barrier due to differences in species

Housing and Environment for Prairie Dogs

If you’re considering a prairie dog as a pet, it’s important to provide them with a suitable habitat that meets their needs. Here are some key factors to consider when setting up their housing and environment:


The cage for your prairie dog should be spacious and secure. Opt for a large cage made of wire, stainless steel, or durable plastic to ensure the safety of your pet. The cage should allow your prairie dog to move around freely and engage in natural behaviors. Here are some guidelines:

  • Choose a cage that provides enough vertical and horizontal space for your prairie dog to explore. They are active animals and need room to move.
  • Ensure the cage has a solid floor to prevent injury to your pet’s feet.
  • Provide multiple levels, ramps, and platforms to create an interesting and stimulating environment.
  • Place toys, tunnels, and hideouts inside the cage to encourage mental stimulation and play.


Proper bedding is essential for the comfort and well-being of your prairie dog. Here are some suitable options:

  • Timothy hay: This natural bedding material not only provides comfort but also helps maintain your pet’s dental health.
  • Aspen shavings: These shavings are clean, absorbent, and safe for your prairie dog.
  • Recycled paper products: Environmentally friendly and dust-free, these products make a great bedding option.


The location of the cage plays a vital role in your prairie dog’s well-being. Consider the following:

  • Place the cage in a quiet area of your home, away from excessive noise and disturbances.
  • Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause overheating and discomfort.
  • Extreme temperatures can be harmful to prairie dogs, so keep the cage away from drafty areas or air conditioning units.


Prairie dogs are highly social animals and thrive when housed with a compatible companion. Consider getting a pair or a small group of prairie dogs, as they will benefit from the company of their own kind. However, ensure that the cage is large enough to accommodate multiple individuals comfortably.

Prairie Dog Habitat Example

Cage SizeBedding MaterialHabitat Accessories
36″ x 24″ x 48″Timothy HayToys, tunnels, platforms
48″ x 24″ x 60″Aspen shavingsHideouts, ropes, exercise wheel
60″ x 30″ x 72″Recycled paper productsChew toys, foraging toys, hammocks

Personalized Dog T Shirt


Dress your beloved pet in style with our Personalized Dog T Shirt! Available in three classic colors—crisp white, elegant black, and vibrant red—this Dog T Shirt is perfect for pets of all sizes. Whether you’re taking a stroll in the park or attending a pet-friendly event, your furry friend will look dapper and feel comfortable….

Common Health Concerns for Prairie Dogs

Prairie dogs, like any other pets, are susceptible to various health issues. It is important for pet owners to be aware of these common health concerns and take proactive measures to ensure the well-being of their furry friends. In this section, we will discuss the most prevalent health issues that prairie dogs may encounter and provide guidelines on how to care for their health needs.

1. Obesity:

Prairie dogs can easily become overweight if they are not provided with a balanced diet and sufficient exercise. Obesity can lead to several health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and joint issues. To prevent obesity, make sure to feed your prairie dog a well-balanced diet and provide plenty of opportunities for physical activity.

2. Respiratory Diseases:

Prairie dogs are prone to respiratory diseases, especially if they are kept in poorly ventilated environments or are exposed to stress. Common respiratory problems include pneumonia and bronchitis. It is crucial to maintain a clean and well-ventilated living space for your prairie dog. Avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures or drafts that can compromise their respiratory health.

3. Dental Problems:

Dental issues are common among prairie dogs due to their constantly growing teeth. Overgrown teeth, dental infections, and cavities can cause discomfort and difficulty eating. To ensure good dental health, provide your prairie dog with plenty of chew toys and regular opportunities to grind their teeth. Regular veterinary check-ups can help detect and address any dental problems early on.

4. Infections:

Like any living creature, prairie dogs are susceptible to infections. These can include bacterial, viral, or fungal infections that can affect different organs and systems. Pay attention to any signs of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or unusual behavior, and consult a veterinarian if you suspect an infection. Maintaining a clean and hygienic living environment is crucial in preventing the spread of infections.

prairie dog health

By being vigilant about your prairie dog’s health and providing them with a well-balanced diet, regular veterinary care, and a clean living environment, you can minimize the risk of these health concerns. Preventive measures and early detection are key to ensuring a long and healthy life for your beloved prairie dog companion.

Final Remarks

Prairie dogs can indeed make wonderful pets, provided that you are willing to dedicate the necessary care and attention to their needs. They have unique personalities and can form strong bonds with their human owners, bringing joy and companionship to their families.

However, it’s important to note that owning a prairie dog requires a significant time commitment and specialized care. Before deciding to bring one into your home, you should carefully consider these factors to ensure that you can provide the appropriate environment and meet their specific needs. Prairie Dogs as Pets can indeed be a fulfilling experience.

With proper care, love, and attention, Prairie Dogs as Pets can thrive. They can be affectionate and playful companions, and their individual personalities make them a delightful addition to any household. So, if you are ready to invest the time and effort required, owning a prairie dog can be a rewarding experience.


Are prairie dogs good pets?

Yes, prairie dogs can make affectionate and playful pets if cared for properly.

How long do prairie dogs live as pets?

Pet prairie dogs, specifically black-tailed prairie dogs, can live up to 12 years in captivity.

What do prairie dogs eat?

Over 90% of a pet prairie dog’s diet should consist of Timothy Hay and fresh grasses. The remaining 10% can include a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins.

How can I bond with a prairie dog?

To bond with a pet prairie dog, spend a considerable amount of time with the baby in the first few weeks after bringing it home. Prairie dogs are affectionate and attention-seeking, making them enjoyable pets.

What housing and environment do prairie dogs need?

Prairie dogs should be housed in a large cage made of wire, stainless steel, or durable plastic. The cage should have ample space for the prairie dog to move around and provide proper ventilation. Bedding materials such as Timothy Hay or aspen shavings should be used.

What are common health concerns for prairie dogs?

Prairie dogs can be prone to obesity, respiratory diseases, dental problems, and certain infections. Regular veterinary check-ups and dental care are important for maintaining their overall health.

Can you have a prairie dog as a pet?

Yes, you can have a prairie dog as a pet, but they require a significant time commitment and specialized care. Potential owners should carefully consider these factors before bringing a prairie dog into their home.

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