Thursday, November 30, 2023

Researchers Discover Prairie Dogs are Serial Killers


by Eric Chaney,

Researchers recently discovered that white-tailed prairie dogs are the only mammalian, herbivorous species that kills to protect food sources without actually eating the bodies of their victims. 

“In my 43 years of research, this is perhaps the most provocative, puzzling, and far-reaching discovery I’ve ever made,” study co-author John Hoogland of the University of Maryland Center of Environmental Sciences told National Geographic. “The results are just staggering.”

Hoogland and his team spent months observing groundhogs in Colorado, Nat Geo reports, where, in 2007, he spotted a white-tailed prairie dog tossing around what he thought was another dog's pup, a not uncommon occurrence.

But the victim was actually a Wyoming ground squirrel, a smaller species that competes with prairie dogs for the same grass and prickly pears. 

The researchers identified 47 prairie dogs that made kills: 36 were female, 11 were male. Thirty percent of all females killed at least once in their lives. Nineteen females were serial killers in the same or consecutive years.

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