Monkey Pox No More! Have Prairie Dogs as Pets.


prairie dogsLooking for an intelligent, social, and super cute pet? How about a pet prairie dog? An exotic choice is a prairie dog. As an exotic pet, pet prairie dogs are illegal in some states and have a troublesome past. Intrigued?

  • Prairie dogs are intelligent animals. According to the Humane Society, they have an advanced communication system. They create and understand words for “tall human”, “coyote”, “short human in yellow shirt”. As pets, they respond when their human calls them.
  • Prairie dogs are affectionate. In the wild, they spend much of their time in groups playing, and grooming.
  • Prairie dogs only breed once a year. Breeding season is January – March. Non neutered males become aggressive during mating season.
  • A prairie dog’s lifespan is 5-10 years. Adopting a prairie dog is a long term commitment.
  • Pet prairie dogs need to bond. A prairie dog must be able to bond with a human in order to remain a gentle and sweet pet.
  • Pet prairie dogs cannot be returned to the wild. After living in captivity, they will not have any instincts on how to fend for themselves.


Professionals encourage potential parents to learn more about these intelligent and exotic species before adopting. They may not be legal in some states due to past incidents.

The midwest had an outbreak of Monkey Pox in 2003. Originally, prairie dogs as pets were to blame. An Illinois vendor had housed prairie dogs with another animal. The CDC investigated 53 cases of Monkey Pox, and although a prairie dog had contributed to the spread, the origin of the disease was a sick African rat.

In order to prevent future cases of rampant exotic diseases, potential parents should know what to look for in a vendor before purchasing. Determine if the vendor cares for the animals. This is important not only for the animal’s safety but also for your own. Here are some guidelines:

  • Make sure the breeder / vendor has a USDA license. Breeders / vendors of exotic animals are required to have a government issued license.
  •  Make sure to make a phone call or have an in person meeting. Are they selling on eBay? Craigslist? They are selling animals to make money without any regard to whom they are going to.
  • Check online reviews. All companies have good and bad reviews. Use your best judgment while reading them.
  • Ask to meet the parents. Most places will show people around. If they do not allow visitors – do not buy from them.
  • Check breeding activity. Are there always litters for sale? Prairie dogs only breed once a year. If they are selling litters all year, they may be harming the animals.


Before purchasing an exotic pet, look for a local exotic pet veterinarian. Not all vets will know how to care for your new pet. Also before purchasing, check your local and state laws regarding owning prairie dogs as pets.