How Much Are Pet Prairie Dogs? [Costs & Where To Get Them?]

how much are pet prairie dogs

Prairie dogs make great pets. They are social animals that can be trained. With proper training, they make great companions for those with daily time to socialize and play with them. But prairie dogs aren’t available at many pet stores, and getting them may take some extra effort. So, where do you get them, and how much are pet prairie dogs?

Prairie dogs cost between $150-400 to purchase. Several other costs are associated with prairie dogs, including housing, feeding, and veterinary costs. These costs should be calculated for its whole 8-to-12-year lifespan. Prairie dogs will also cost you time and energy.

You may know that in 2003 prairie dogs were found to be a primary cause of a monkeypox outbreak. If not, then read about it here

Because of this, pet prairie dogs were banned for over five years in the United States. This ban made them more challenging to get once the ban was lifted. Still, with some effort and the information in this article, you will find everything you need to know about prairie dog costs and where to get them. Keep reading!

How Much Do Pet Prairie Dogs Cost?

Prairie dogs range in price from about $150-$400, depending if you get them from a rescue center or animal shelter or buy them from an exotic pet store.

Licensed USDA dealers collect thousands of prairie dogs a year to sell to the public to control prairie dog populations. These dealers must also provide you with a health certificate and official USDA paperwork. 

This collection and certification come at a cost to the dealer, and the price of a prairie dog will vary depending on their method of collection and markup. 

Always consider the ethics of where you get your prairie dogs from. Do some online research on any store or organization before you buy one. 

Also, chat with your local vet before you get a prairie dog. Your veterinarian can advise you on where to get one in your area and information on the costs and care of a prairie dog. They will also be able to provide veterinary services as soon as you get your prairie dog and advise the costs associated with this.

That said, do your due diligence before getting a prairie dog as a pet, as many states consider it illegal to own them. 

Other Costs Associated With Pet Prairie Dogs

Other than the cost of purchasing a prairie dog, there are several other costs to consider when you get a prairie dog.

Shipping Fees For Prairie Dogs

You will need to pay shipping fees if you buy a prairie dog from an exotic dealer out of your state or from another city. Transporting animals is obviously more complex than having a pair of sneakers shipped to your house, so be prepared for shipping fees between $150-$300 or more. 

The shipping fees will depend on your location and possible surcharge fees the delivery company will charge for animal transportation.

Buying More Than One Prairie Dog

Prairie dogs are social animals. They may become depressed and act out if they are not socialized and cared for at least six hours daily. If you do not have time each day to socialize with your prairie dog, consider getting more than one prairie dog. This will increase the cost accordingly.

That said, prairie dogs aren’t the best pets because they require more care than a cat or dog. So, make sure you understand why they don’t make great pets before getting one. 

Housing For Pet Prairie Dogs 

You will need to buy appropriate housing if you have never had a prairie dog. This could be a cage in your apartment or an outside prairie dog house, depending on where you live. 

You will need to calculate the cost of this and install it before you get a prairie dog. The costs will vary depending on the type of housing you buy or whether you build it yourself. 

Plan The Costs For The Full Lifespan Of A Prairie Dog

Black-tailed prairie dogs can live between 8-12 years or longer in captivity. Getting a prairie dog is a long-term commitment. 

Plan to carry the costs of a prairie dog for at least eight years, including all the costs associated with veterinary care, feed, housing, and transport where necessary.

Associated Costs Of Feeding Pet Prairie Dogs

Prairie dogs are hindgut fermenter animals and must be fed a mixture of rabbit feed, rodent chow, and fresh vegetables. Be aware that your pet prairie dog will need a high-fiber diet and specialized food. 

Talk to your vet about pet food stores in your area and calculate the yearly cost of feeding a prairie dog.

Why Does The Cost Of Pet Prairie Dogs Vary?

The exact cost of your prairie dog will vary depending on where you get it from. Rescue organizations will often charge only a neutering and spaying fee. In contrast, exotic traders will charge a price to make a profit.

Consider the trade-offs you will make when getting a prairie dog. Getting a prairie dog from a rescue organization may be less expensive, but it will take more time and effort. Buying a prairie dog from an exotic trader may be more expensive but will typically take less time and effort.

When dealing in the exotic trade of animals, always research whether the animals are legally trapped or bred humanely. We discuss some ethical considerations below.

Where Do You Get A Prairie Dog From?

There are three main places to get a prairie dog:

  • An exotic pet rescue center
  • An animal shelter, or 
  • An exotic pet store or trader

Adult pet prairie dogs become available at rescue centers and animal shelters all year round as they are rescued and given up for adoption for many different reasons. 

Do an internet search for rescue centers and animal shelters in your area, and contact them to find out if they have any prairie dogs for adoption. If they don’t have any, ask to be put on a mailing list for when they become available.

Baby prairie dogs are collected or bred between April and July. Usually, they are available for collection six to eight weeks after birth if you use an exotic pet store to get your prairie dog. Adults are typically available all year round.

Prairie Dog Behavior

Prairie dogs are diurnal animals. That is, they are awake during the day and sleep at night. This makes them great pets as they are active when their owners are awake.

Prairie dogs are very social animals. They need at least six hours a day of socializing. They are very interactive and can be trained to go for walks and respond to their name. 

Be aware that owning a prairie dog is also associated with a time cost. The flip side is that prairie dogs require extended care and attention.

Prairie dogs can become irritable and bite when mishandled, feel threatened, or starved for attention. 

In some cases, they are unsuitable for socializing with small children, especially if the prairie dog is handled by unsupervised children. 

Final Word

Prairie dogs don’t make the greatest pets. Yet, that doesn’t stop people from acquiring one. If you’re thinking about getting one, do your due diligence, as they will need constant companionship, proper socialization, and a lot of space. 

There are several costs associated with prairie dogs, not only the cost of purchasing one from a rescue center, animal shelter, or exotic pet store but also housing, feeding, and veterinary costs. 

Calculate the costs over an 8-to-12-year lifespan. Prairie dogs also cost time and energy. As social animals, they will need at least six hours a day of one-on-one interaction.

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