Unethical Prairie Dog Suppliers

Jen and I are currently spending a large amount of time every day/evening taking care of our new prairie dogs. We’re experienced owners of prairie dogs, and picked up several new babies just last week. It pains me to say “experienced”, because lately we’ve been learning how little experience we actually have.

It turns out that there are very few prairie dog sources in SE Florida, and that one of the biggest (only?) providers of them is a reptile store located in Hollywood. I had checked-in with them every day for a week or two (PDs breed in March/April). Finally, they received their prairie dogs. So I drove down to pay for them and take them home.

I walked into a heart-breaking experience. Much to my alarm, they had approximately one-hundred-and-fifty prairie dogs contained in two large, white containers that resemble the kind of horizontal refrigerators that most gas stations keep their ice cream in. These poor little creatures were all clambering, trying to escape up the sides.

As expected, their staff (at least two employees) were almost completely ignorant about prairie dogs, and seemed convinced that they were mean, terrible pets. When I paid for them, I got a receipt. I was given no certification of age, health, or even gender, and was told that there are no refunds. I was told that I was not permitted to take -any- pictures.

Now, Jen, being the ace Internet investigator that she is, was lucky enough to connect-up with international prairie dog consultant, Dr. Gena Seaberg, who solely specializes in the care of this species. It wasn’t until we spoke to Dr. Seaberg that we were made aware that not only were we suspiciously missing all necessary originating information and documentation that should’ve accompanied our dogs, but ours were far too young to have ever been sold. By all indications, it looks like two of them are only six-weeks of age, and one younger… A sharp contrast to the minimum age of ten-weeks that they’re supposed to be in order to be eating a solid diet. We were also not given any instructions about supplemental syringe feeding or care, simply sent out the door. It was obvious that these pups were starving to death and weren’t getting the minimum level of care at this establishment.

Within the first day of owning the new prairie dogs, two of them started gnashing their teeth (an indication of pain). It turns out that the little one was too young to even feed herself. We had to feed her baby-food with a syringe, as a drastic, short-term solution.

Through a continuing dialog with Dr. Seaberg, she filled us in with additional information on the prairie dog industry in SE Florida. We were told that there is a specific supplier that services most of the region, and whom acquires the prairie dogs from wild colonies by vacuuming the babies from their holes, by the hundreds. Sadly, Jen and I already knew about the vacuuming, as prairie dogs are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. What we didn’t know was the sheer volume, or that this is done so ignorantly and heartlessly that they buy these prairie dogs for about $10 each, about 20% of the dogs die off, and the dead are just fed to reptiles. This explains why they’re being distributed by a reptile store.

Worse yet, apparently the man who supplies the store has a history of unethical practices, and routinely changes company names and passes ownership to escape any heat that he gets. For some reason, the state seems to want to persecute the individual, rather than seeking to understand a defenseless and exploited creature that they could lay down legislation or policy to protect. These are the same people who let the pythons consume half of our Everglades wildlife before deciding to take action.

With all of that said, stay away from Strictly Reptiles, in Hollywood (Florida).

Although the one guy supplies the majority of the Florida market, there are a few other people that do sell to places in Florida as brokers from other states. Make sure to do your research and ask questions in advance before making a purchase. This is highly advisable to prevent you from experiencing what we did. Find out if they were vacuum captured or humanely captured. If they can’t or won’t answer you, then I’d be wary as what they could be hiding. SR, mentioned above, made a point of completely forbidding all photography, which is beyond suspicious. If they can’t be forthright with information, this should be a red flag. All prairie dogs, despite capture methods, do need good quality, knowledgeable homes where people do their research in advance and are ready for what it takes for this long term, but wonderful commitment. It is better to be proactive with this species and not reactive for their success.

A big thanks goes out to Gena for providing us so much support. The new dogs are getting stronger every day, and we hope to share much of the information that has been given us.

If you know of any prairie dog suppliers that are being harmfully irresponsible with prairie dogs, please go here and add them to the list, so that we can make them known. As this is an advocacy website, we will report them.

Update (2013-04-29): This is an official FDA conviction of Strictly Reptiles for the sale of 1000 undersized turtles [which are carriers of salmonella]:


Update (2013-04-30): The reason that Strictly Reptiles escapes any responsibility for their business practices, as they relate to prairie dogs, is that all inspections in the last four years were done at a time of year when they couldn’t possibly have any prairie dogs (this year, they didn’t come in until the middle of April).

It is imperative that the USDA is pushed to do surprise inspections, at a more relevant time of the year.


7 thoughts on “Unethical Prairie Dog Suppliers

  1. The following professional comments are courtesy of Strictly Reptiles. These are entirely random, and were not solicited. Although angered by the post, they apparently didn’t read most of it. Dustin

    You are an idiot. I even looked up the definition of idiot in Webster’s Dictionary and thought that this word is the best to define you.
    Your observations are totally wrong. If you where even close to correct that would mean that the thousands of Prairie Dogs I sell each year would be dead and my business would be unsuccessful. My USDA inspector visits me each Prairie Dog season and has NEVER found a violation. My customers love me and the Prairie Dogs. They get 100% success rate from my shipment.
    Good luck with your stupid blog. I can only hope that people with common sense and money see how stupid you are.

    By the way, if you want more Prairie Dogs, stay out of my shop. You are not welcome.


    • The following was the response to them:

      As I said in April, if you feel like all of my [direct] observations are incorrect, write a declaration describing where you get the prairie dogs, how they’re transported to your store, and how they’re fed and maintained while they’re in your store. Also, indicate that you do not, in fact, feed them to your reptiles. If you can write such a declaration, I’ll be the first one to share it. If not, then I’ll assume that you agree with everything that has been stated.

      • SR has stated that they do not dispose of dead prairie dogs by feeding them to their reptiles, but have refused to make any official statements on the subject.

  2. Hello very nice weeb site!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your site and take the feeds also?
    I am glad to seek out a lot of helpful inf here inn the post,
    we need develop more strategies on this regard, thank you for
    sharing. . . . . .

  3. Hi guys, nice infos here. I have some questions to ask in regards to suppliers exporting praire dogs.
    please kindly send me your email address.

  4. Gena is so helpful. I was freaking out when I first got my prairie babies and she put my mind at ease. 2 years later, my boys are well behaved, non-biting and a pleasure to be around. I really thank Gena for teaching me how to give them time out and neuter early.

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