Prairie dogs have been the talk of the Hub City more than usual with the little yahooing critters being kept as pets and making TikToks. There are even some Facebook reports of these lil' doggies being snatched right out of their beloved prairie dog town.

My concerns, however, lean more toward the prairie dogs going through these desperate times and showing a little more skin than Mother Nature intended.

I went to a Lubbock park a few months ago and saw what looked like a deflated mini-basketball...until it moved and made me scream like it was my last night on Earth. The deflated little lump was, in fact, a furless prairie dog. I didn't know they came that way. I would've figured they'd have a shred of decency to cover up.

After getting into contact with Texas Parks and Wildlife, there was no clear answer to what could possibly afflicting the prairie dogs -- dehydration, some form of mange, or even ticks. Most humans should stay a reasonable distance from wild prairie dogs, because ticks are one of the parasites they carry and those can jump onto humans.

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Some weeks after giving up, I was able to get into contact with Ph.D Gena Seaberg, international consultant for prairie dogs since 1994, who also runs the website weloveprairiedogs.com.

"All prairie dogs in the wild and those in captive settings experience molting cycles where they change their coat," Dr. Seaberg told KFYO News. "Those that are older in age, can look a bit more intense in their molt than those that are younger. Similar to how an older canine's coat may look a bit thin and sparse in old age, along with typical shedding. In the case of prairie dog molt cycles, they can shed their coats for whole new coats."

This means that the prairie dogs I saw were more than likely in the middle of their molting cycle and not to my knowledge diseased or poisoned. Maybe one resembled a tired Danny DeVito, but it's likely they were molting trying to look good for summer and maybe go on a date at Taco Bell with the rest of Lubbock's prairie dogs.

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