To Travel. To Write. To Explore.
Prairie Dogs of Lake Arrowhead
The Black-tailed Prairie Dogs at Lake Arrowhead State Park near Wichita Falls, Texas, gifted me so much more than simple cute and cuddly entertainment.
The campground layout is unique and unlike like any I’ve yet to see again. From the park roads, you drive into a circular area with six sites per loop. The sites were at an easy-to-back-into angle and provided each camper plenty of room to stretch out and privacy. In the center of the circular loop that I chose to reside was home to several prairie dogs. I spent a great amount of time watching and listening to them as they nibbled on and gathered the grasses to take into their burrows.
Each morning and early evening, I would walk to the waterfront picnic area. Mounds of excavated dirt from the prairie dogs littered the grounds. I loved watching them move about the landscape. And their chirps, calls and “woo’s” tickled my eardrums. When one prairie dog called out, several others would follow suit. I wish I’d taken a photo of the park sign that informed the park visitors that if you pay attention to their sounds, you can begin to understand what each different tone and chirp meant. For example the tone was different when a couple with a dog walked past then if I when I did.
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs are a close cousin to the ground squirrel. Basically, they are heavy-bodied rodent with a short black-tipped tail with large eyes and brown fur. They are very social and live in “towns”, communities, that can range from one to a thousand acres.
Each time I walked to the picnic area, one of my new fuzzy friends would walk within two feet to me, sit up on his hind end and chatter. It was as if he was giving me the morning (or evening) gossip. When he was done chattering, he’d waddle away to be with his mate. She rarely left the entrance to their home. I named him George.
This was the location I spent my first Thanksgiving away from my family. My son, Mason, did his techno-magic to broadcast my video call on his big screen television during our family gathering. Everyone loved the beautiful landscape views of Lake Arrowhead and watching the prairie dogs in action. I believe it’s safe to state that the prairie dogs had more screen time with my grandsons than I did. I’m good with that. I am enjoying the ability to introduce my three grandsons to places and critters beyond their homes.
George and the rest of the prairie dog community have a special place in my heart. I hope to visit that campground on my return trip home.
- Keep the wild animals wild; do not feed the wildlife.
- Best way to watch the Black-tailed Prairie Dog is to find a spot and sit/stand still so they get used to your presence.
- Prairie dogs are most active above ground in the morning and evening (cooler hours of the day).
- The Lake Arrowhead State Park Visitor’s Center has a gift shop that sells prairie dog stuffed animals and books.
- Remember your camera.
Websites for the curious:
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To Write. To Travel. To Explore.
I’m a writer; it’s what I do.
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