Watching the prairie dogs do what they do is a pastime in the western plains, because this is natural entertainment at its best. Prairie Dogs are very social creatures that live in large colonies that can be compared to a small city and communication is the key to their survival. These burrowing critters have a complex language of chirp and yelp sounds that signal everything from affection to warning of nearby predators. The underground tunnel system that these animals dig is equally as complex, since certain areas are designated for specific purposes, like food storage or habitation. The mounds they create above ground serve as lookout posts and signal towers, which means there is always a prairie dog or two on guard.
Since prairie dogs are all eyes and all ears, it is not easy to sneak up to get a closer look. Fortunately there are a few famous dog towns where the human presence is tolerated, which makes it easier to view the show. The Devils Tower Prairie Dog Town is located along the entranceway to this landmark and it is well marked. Visitors park next to the dog town to view the action all day long and the prairie dogs no longer run for cover.
Prairie Dogs can be seen running from mound to mound all over this field and their behavior is easy to note. Hours can be spent watching the interactions that these compassionate animals demonstrate. Viewing with the naked eyes will reveal plenty in this semi tame prairie dog town, while binoculars or a telephoto lens will make the visual experience even better. I used a 70-300mm and 200-500mm lens with a 1.5 crop sensor Nikon camera to capture the closeup images, which will provide an idea of how powerful a lens will be needed. Be sure to use a large capacity memory card in the camera, because taking pictures at the Devils Tower Prairie Dog Town certainly can be addictive!
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