BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Black-tailed pups are now emerging in the Maryland’s Zoo busy prairie dog colony.

The black-tailed prairie dog pups began emerging this week and can be seen exploring in their above ground tunnels. These small and spunky dogs are native to the western United States and spend most of their time creating complex underground tunnel systems.

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The pups are born underground in nesting chambers and spend up to seven weeks underground to nurse. Female prairies have litters of three to four puppies each spring.

They are born blind and without hair leaving them dependent on their parents for survival. Both parents care for the pups, but once they emerge from burrows, they nurse from any female prairie dog.

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In the 1970s, prairie dogs were critically endangered. However, due to conservation efforts they are now classified as a “species of least concern.” Unfortunately, they continue to face habitat loss due to new urban developments.

Prairie Dog Town opened at the Maryland Zoo in 2009 after the colony was moved from their habitat to the front of the Zoo.

For photos and updates on the prairie dog colony, please visit www.marylandzoo.org and www.facebook.com/marylandzoo.

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CBS Baltimore Staff