Gophers come in a range of colors, from dark brown to almost white, sometimes with lighter underbellies and faces.
Their long incisors are always exposed, and the mouth seals behind the teeth so that gophers don’t ingest dirt when burrowing.
Gopher size can vary significantly depending on species and sex; they are typically 5-14 inches in length and two ounces to one pound in weight.
Ears and eyes
Gophers have small eyes and ears since their other senses are more useful to them underground.
Gophers use their highly sensitive, hairless tails to feel their way through tunnels when moving backward through their narrow burrows.
Gophers have large, fur-lined cheek pouches that allow them to carry food, which is how the name pocket gopher came to be.
Gophers’ limbs are small and clawed, making them ideal for digging.
Gophers prefer to live alone and are territorial and aggressive when confronted. Here are a few other things to know about their behavior before you attempt to remove them.
- Can be active at all hours of the day
- Solitary except when mating or rearing their young
- Food caches and nesting burrows can be as deep as six feetv
- Feeding burrows are typically much closer to the surface
- Always plug their feeding holes when not in use
- May occasionally venture above ground to eat plants but stay close to the burrow
- Strict herbivores that consume insects like some other rodents
- Do not hibernate or enter torpor in winter; stays active all year
Gophers are highly adaptable and can make a home in a number of different landscapes. In general, though, they prefer soil that meets these requirements.
- Not extremely rocky, although some rocks are permissible
- Soil is dense enough to support burrow structures without collapsing
- Soil is aerated enough so they can breathe underground for long periods
- Allows them to reach a comfortable temperature by either burrowing closer to the surface or deeper underground
- Can be as plentiful as 60 animals per acre, depending on water and food sources
Gophers can be found throughout much of the Western hemisphere. The roughly 35 different species of gopher rarely overlap in one location.
- More common in the Western United States, although a few are found in the Southeast
- Range from Canada to South America
- Similar in behavior across species and climates, although they can vary significantly in size
Gophers mate only once or twice a year, and this is the only time the independent creatures share each other’s space.
- Usually mate in spring or summer
- Litters consist of two to six offspring
- Gestation period is about 19 days
- Typically stay with mother for two to three months before starting their own burrows