10 Animals That Look Like Prairie Dogs (List+Photos)

Prairie dogs are some of the most interesting animals that exist. They bark like dogs and scan the horizon for predators like meerkats. But yet they are neither of those. 

And if you were wondering if there are animals that resemble prairie dogs, you would be surprised to learn that there are plenty!

Meerkats, ground squirrels, chipmunks, and marmots are only a few that remind a lot of prairie dogs. Similarities in looks can be found between them and beavers, marmots, ferrets, and minks as well.

Let’s dive straight into and show you how all of these animals that bear some resemblance to prairie dogs look!

At A Glance – What A Prairie Dog Looks Like

prairie dogs

Animals That Look Like Prairie Dogs

Meerkat

meerkat

Size: 9.8-14 in
Weight: 1.6 lb
Diet: Omnivore
Habitat: Africa

Meerkat is a small and adorable animal that can be found in Southern Africa. It has bushy fur, a small face, large eyes surrounded by dark patches, and reminds a lot of prairie dogs. 

Meerkats and prairie dogs are both social animals that like to dig deep tunnels underground and live in large groups.

Both groups have scouts when the grazing time comes. There will be one animal standing on its back legs and looking for predators while the rest is outside looking for food and playing in the sun. This can make it really easy to mistake prairie dogs for meerkats. 

Meerkats are carnivores that feed on insects like beetles, spiders, termites, scorpions, lizards, and even small snakes.


Marmot

marmots

Size: 17-28 in
Weight: 6-15 lb
Diet: Herbivore
Habitat: Asia, Europe, and North America

Marmots are heavily built animals that are extremely similar to prairie dogs. Marmots look like a lot chubbier versions of prairie dogs.

Marmots hibernate 7-8 months in a year and can lose two-thirds of their body weight during that period.

Marmots and prairie dogs both use hind-leg lookouts to watch for predators, hence the similarity in their looks. When they spot a predator, prairie dogs will bark, while the marmots will whistle loudly. 

There are 14 species of marmots (+groundhogs) and they can be found in mountain regions of Europe, North America, and Asia.


Beaver

beaver

Size: 2.4-3.1 ft
Weight: 24-71 lb
Diet: Herbivore
Habitat: USA, Canada, and Northern Mexico

The next animal that looks like a prairie dog is a beaver. A beaver is a large, semiaquatic rodent famous for nibbling tree trunks and building dams. It has short legs, a stout body, huge teeth, and a small, broad, and blunt head.

Beavers are excellent swimmers that can dive for up to 15 minutes. When they go underwater, beavers will shut their ears and nose to keep water out.

Beavers can be found around rivers, ponds, and lakes. 

Read more: List of animals that can be found in lakes and ponds


Ground Squirrel

Columbia ground squirrel

Size: 8-12 in
Weight: 1-3 lb
Diet: Omnivore
Habitat: North America, Europe, and Asia

Ground squirrels are small rodents of the squirrel family that live on the ground rather than on trees. Ground squirrels and prairie dogs look very much alike: both are similar in size, have short legs, strong claws, and small rounded ears. Both like to live in burrows underground, occupying areas rich in plants and grasses.

Ground squirrels prefer to live in open areas, rocky outcrops, fields, pastures, and wooded hillsides. They are omnivorous animals that feed on fungi, nuts, fruits, seeds, occasionally insects, eggs, and other small animals.

Read more: Are Peccary The Same As Rodents?


Chipmunk

chipmunk

Size: 7-8.5 in
Weight: 2.3–5.3 oz
Diet: Omnivore
Habitat: North America

Chipmunks are another member of the squirrel family that share many visual similarities with prairie dogs. They are small, have large, glossy eyes and pointy whisker-covered noses. 

Chipmunks are omnivores that feed on seeds, fruits, nuts, grass, but also on fungi, insects, small frogs, worms, and even bird eggs. 

Chipmunks and ground squirrels are closely related to prairie dogs and look much like their relatives – they are members of the same tribe Marmotini.


Ferret

ferret

Size: 15 in
Weight: 1.5-4.4 lb
Diet: Carnivore
Habitat: North America, Africa, and Europe

Ferrets are small furry creatures that have long bodies, short legs, small ears, and small heads. They have similar body shapes to prairie dogs.

Ferrets are carnivores that feed on raw meat, raw bones, and other tissue they find in the wild. People also keep them as pets, due to their playful and inquisitive nature.

A group of ferrets is called a “business” and the word ferret comes from the Latin word “furittus” which means “little thief.”


Mink

mink

Size: 13-18 in
Weight: 1.1-3.5 lb
Diet: Carnivore
Habitat: North America, Europe, and Asia

Minks are small, semiaquatic animals that resemble prairie dogs. They can be found in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are being farmed for their fur that is used to make expensive coats. 

Minks can swim, dig, and climb; when feeling joyful, they will purr. There are 2 species of minks today: the American and the European mink.


Gopher

pocket gopher

Size: 5-14 in
Weight: 1-2.2 lb
Diet: Herbivore
Habitat: Central America, USA, Canada

Gophers are, just like prairie dogs, burrowing animals. Their full name is pocket gopher due to the fur-lined pouches on the outside of their cheeks. Gophers can be found in areas with loose, sandy soil in Central and North America.

There are around 41 species of gophers and they love building complex underground tunnel systems. To prevent dirt from getting inside their mouths while gophers dig with their teeth, their lips can close behind their incisors.


Pika

pika

Size: 7.5 in
Weight: 3.8 oz
Diet: Herbivore
Habitat: North America, Asia

Pika is a small herbivorous mammal that shares some physical similarities with the prairie dog. It has short limbs, a very round body, and a furry coat and can be found in the mountains of western North America and much of Asia.

Pikas do not hibernate but collect plants, grasses, leaves, and flowers all summer, dry them in “hay piles” under large rocks, and then feed on them during winter. 

Pikas might use high-pitched alarm calls to differentiate between colony members and others trying to steal food items from a colony pile.


Agouti

agouti

Size: 2 ft
Weight: 13 lb
Diet: Herbivore
Habitat: Central and South America

Agouti is the last on our list of animals that look like prairie dogs. It is a burrowing animal that is native to forested and wooded areas in Central and South America. Agouti has a rounded body, brown or grey fur, and small ears.

They are known as jungle gardeners -they will bury their nuts in the ground and forget about them, allowing new plants to grow. They are born with their eyes open (unlike bears that are born blind), are great swimmers, and are said to be the only animal that can open a brazil nut.

Just like prairie dogs, they will bark when scared.

Read More: Animals with hilariously funny foreheads


Final Thoughts

There you have it – 10 animals that are similar to prairie dogs. 

Ground squirrels, chipmunks are the two that are closely related to prairie dogs and resemble them the most. Besides, many similarities can be found between prairie dogs and beavers, marmots, meerkats, gophers, pikas, and many others! 

Hopefully, you have learned by now to differentiate between all of these animals.

Photo References

Gopher – Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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