Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Vinson Massif, Antarctica
In the fall/winter, mature males will often experience rut - which can basically make them seem like they've gone psychotic. Every prairie dog is different, some get worse than others, some years can be worse than others, and even the length of time it lasts can vary widely - sometimes for months. Neutering can mitigate a lot of the effects of rut. Personally, my two males are not neutered. I just leave them to their own devices when they don't want to be dealt with.
The problem with this, is that they are remarkably smart, and have good memories. Once they learn that biting gets you to go away, they can keep doing it any time they want to be left alone. Or get defensive, because of how you may have reacted previously. If you try to punish them, they remember, and will often act out with the bad behavior just to get your attention. It can make avoiding undesirable behavior very difficult.
As for suggestions, I think neutering may help, but I wouldn't expect it to be a complete solution. Try to baby him when he's recovering. Find some treats he likes. Be patient, let him come to you. If he acts up, put him immediately away, leave him alone for a while, and try again at another time. The hope is that he'll eventually get the point, that if he bites or misbehaves, he'll get put away and ignored. If he wants attention or treats, he has to be good.
If handling is completely impossible, I'd suggest a nice pair of thick leather welding gloves. I keep them on hand for dealing with difficult animals, from unruly rodents to monitor lizards. You can get a pair pretty cheap at any hardware store.
I also keep UV lighting on my prairie dogs. I honestly don't know if it helps, but they seem to appreciate it, and are more active when the lights are on, as opposed to days I forget to flip the switch. I haven't had any real serious problems with rut.
She sits in her corner, singing herself to sleep.
Wrapped in all of the promises, that no one seems to keep.