French explorers gave this species its common name. They called the prairie dog's le petit chiens, which means "little dogs."
The prairie dog greets another with bared teeth. The dogs touch teeth, or "kiss," as a form of recognition.
Decades of government-sponsored prairie dog extermination programs, widespread disease, destruction of habitat, poisoning and unregulated shooting, reduced the white-tailed prairie dog habitat to 2% of its former range. However, in recent years many states protect and transplant the prairie dog to public land in an effort to recover some of the population.