Metro

At Franklin Park Zoo, a family of prairie dogs welcomes 15 pups

Franklin Park Zoo’s prairie dog colony is welcoming 15 tiny additions, as young pups emerge from their underground burrows to greet visitors.

Zoo New England
Fifteen prairie dog pups were recently born at Franklin Park Zoo. The animals are born blind and hairless, and do not emerge from their underground burrows for the first six weeks of life.

The pups were probably born around April 1 but did not see the light until recently, Zoo New England said in a statement. Prairie dogs are born blind and hairless, so they do not leave their burrows until they are about 6 weeks old.

“Now that the pups have emerged from their burrows, the prairie dog exhibit is a flurry of activity,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England president and CEO, in the statement. “It’s hard not to be amazed by these incredible little creatures as they scurry about and explore. Prairie dogs are highly social animals and it will be fascinating for our guests to watch the pups grow up.”

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Despite their name, the short-grass prairie dwellers native to western North America are not related to dogs. The zoo describes the animals as small, stout rodents with tan coloring and a light-colored belly. The zoo’s black-tailed breed has short black tails, small ears, and long claws that they use to dig holes to burrow into.

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The zoo says prairie dogs are family-oriented animals, who live in colonies divided into territorial neighborhoods called wards. Wards are split into family groups known as coteries, which are typically made up of a male, one to four females, and pups ages 2 or younger.

An adult prairie dog nuzzled a young pup at Franklin Park Zoo’s exhibit.
Zoo New England
An adult prairie dog nuzzled a young pup at Franklin Park Zoo’s exhibit.

Laney Ruckstuhl can be reached at laney.ruckstuhl@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @laneyruckstuhl.