Clark described in his journals the first encounter he and Lewis had with prairie dogs. He knew they were prairie dogs—or rather, he described them as an animal called "prairie dogs" by the French. Clark and Lewis were astounded by the village the prairie dogs had created. Clark wrote that they dug over six feet down through clay before they were able to find the lodges; they then began putting barrels of water down into the prairie dogs' burrow, with the intention of driving them out. This was not immediate‚a lot of water went down there before any prairie dogs emerged. Eventually, they were able to force out one prairie dog, which Clark described as being rather like a squirrel.
Clark says that they captured this prairie dog but had also previously killed one with the use of a rattlesnake. The captured prairie dog went on to be kept as a pet by the Corps of Discovery and was eventually delivered to President Jefferson.