One of the highlights of Badlands National Park (basically everything was a highlight, though) was the abundance of quirky little prairie dogs. They are soooooo cuuuuuuute. Their little faces, their cute paws, and the sounds that they make just kill me!
Prairie dogs are not really dogs, as their name would suggest, they are rodents in the same category as squirrels and chipmunks. There are several different types of prairie dogs, but these in particular are black tailed prairie dogs. Prairie dogs, in general, are highly social animals that live in groups, like families. There is "kissing" activity and grooming that takes place among prairie dogs from the same family. They live in burrows that can extend as far as a meter underground, and they hide in those deepest spaces to avoid predators. They communicate with each other through sophisticated calls in which scientists believe they can describe exactly which predator is threatening them.
It was so wonderful being able to observe prairie dog behavior in the wild. Watching them made me happy, and so interested to learn more about them. I think that's part of why it's so important for people to travel and see new things. Sometimes it's hard to feel a connection to things that we haven't actually observed in person. This is part of the reason why I'm such a big advocate for travel. When people travel, they learn. When people learn, they fall in love. When people love, they protect.