DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - EDITORIAL - JANE WARWICK

A builder friend went to help out fam­ily in Texas in the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey. All went well un­til the end of his stay when he broke his an­kle in a prairie dog hole and wrenched his back at the same time. Then he got bit­ten on the nose by a fire ant. Ac­tu­ally, he got bit­ten on more than his nose by the ants, but it was that par­tic­u­lar bite that was the most dra­matic. His face swelled alarm­ingly, so you can imag­ine he was quite a sight rolling along on the wee scooter that cra­dled his cast. Hunched over with his bad back, his face swollen and red and feel­ing pretty aw­ful, it’s no won­der small chil­dren fled scream­ing.

Ants and prairie dogs have quite a lot in com­mon when it comes to en­gi­neer­ing. Ants build an elab­o­rate colony with mul­ti­ple cham­bers and con­nect­ing tun­nels. Some cham­bers are to store food, some are nurs­eries, some merely rest­ing spa­ces and some are mess halls. There are por­ous tun­nels built above ground to ven­ti­late the nest and main­tain an even tem­per­a­ture inside.

Prairie dogs also live in ex­ten­sive un­der­ground cham­bers which fea­ture nurs­eries, sleep­ing quar­ters, toi­lets, and group meet­ing places. There are even lis­ten­ing post cham­bers, just un­der the sur­face, front doors, back doors and emer­gency ex­its. Some­times free-load­ing rab­bits also shift in. The towns can cover sev­eral hun­dred hectares and are made up of many fam­ily groups or clans. You can tell if prairie dogs are re­lated be­cause those that be­long to the same clan greet each other with akiss. Awwww….

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