In our previous post, What Burrows in the Grasslands of the Southwest?, we talked about what the Southwest looks like and what amazing creatures live in its ecosystem. Today we feature this herb, plant, and insect eating creature, the Prairie dog.
Rattlesnakes consume mice, rats, small birds and other small animals, playing an important ecological role by limiting the size of rodent populations, which prevents crop damage and stabilizes ecosystems.
Rattlesnakes lie in wait for their prey, or hunt for it in holes. The prey are killed quickly with a venomous bite as opposed to constricting. (Wikipedia, 2013)
Let’s take a look at how this brave prairie dog defends her burrow from a deadly rattlesnake. The rattlesnake knows that the mother prairie dog has her babies inside the nest. Watch how the entire Prairie dog colony communicates that there is danger roaming in the grassland.
(Discovery Channel “North America”)
Use the information you have learned on Food Chains: How Energy is Transferred, and respond to the following questions:
- According to the food chain’s trophic levels, where would you find the Prairie dog?
- What trophic level would you find the Rattlesnake?
- Why is having a stable, balanced ecosystem important?