Gophers

Mole Gopher Slug Soft Rot Leaf Spot Borer Other

The gopher is named for external fur-lined cheek pouches for carrying vegetative matter, also a burrowing animal with soft and glossy body hair, inconspicuous ears, with large upper and lower insisors, and they vary by species in size from 6" to 13".

gopher teeth gopher in hole Gopher Pockets
Gopher Teeth Gopher in Hole
Note the amount of damage
Gopher Pockets

Tunnel Information

The excavated crescent shaped mound are produced while tunneling for succulent portions of plants. The gopher is active year round, solitary and defensive. It can control territory up to 2000 square feet.

Gophers are active throughout the year and fresh workings may be found in any month. A gopher will dig up to 7 or 8 tunnels which may extend as much as 800 feet each. Most of the tunneling activity can be seen during the fall. Burrows vary from 2 to 3 inches in diameter. These are mostly parallel to the ground surface, usually at depths of from 6 to 12 inches. New activity sometimes is not visible above ground because the gopher is very capable of backfilling tunnels that are no longer needed. By fall, one gopher will have accumulated seven or eight storage rooms packed with tubers and roots. Because of its subterranean nature and the sometimes limited amount of surface sign, the damage caused by this animal often goes unnoticed.
mole vs gopher mound mole vs gopher mound 03

gopher mound The gopher and mole mounds look different. Most of the time they can be distinguished as the diagrams show.

Note that the mole mound is rounded and the gopher mound is horse-shoe in shape. The gopher may have a huge plug where as the mole mound may not have a plug.

The gopher plug is not located in the middle of the mound, it is to one side of the mound instead.

gopher mound 01 gopher mound 04 gopher mound 05 gopher mound 06
Notice how all of these holes above demonstrate the typical horse-shoe gopher mound
with the off center entrance hole with and without a plug.

gopher mounds 03 Gophers can do a lot of damage to a yard. This pasture could have taken only a year to look like this with more than one gopher tunneling.

gopher holes 01 r mole mounds 02 gopher mound 07
Sometimes it is difficult to tell gopher mounds from mole mounds. Look for the typical
horse-shoe shape like the mounds on the left and right above, and that will be the gopher.
The mole is more rounded like the center picture above. Also, gophers have a tendency to build their mounds in a straight line whereas moles mounds appear to the more randomly placed. Notice the left and right photos, the mounds are definately in a straight line.
Yes the photo on the top was taken in our garden and the man in the back of the bed is Dave on crutches. The crutches are NOT a new method of "critter control." The best way to get rid of gophers is to trap them. Crutches and guns to not work well. Gophers move fast.


Reproduction and Life Cycle

On an average, the female will have 1 or 2 broods a year with 5 or 6 young, but more often, larger broods if survival conditions are good and local gopher population is down. On pasture lands and on uncultivated and non-irrigated areas there is evidently a limited breeding season, some time after the beginning of the spring rains, when green forage become available in quantity. On such areas there is probably a single, annual brood. In irrigated regions, especially in alfalfa fields where green forage is always available, breeding occurs throughout the year. In such places, a female may bear up to 4 litters per year, and as high as 13 young per litter.

Eating Habits

The gopher is an underground dweller, only occasionally coming above ground at night to feed or migrate. He has external cheek pouches in which food is carried. Gophers cut roots of trees and vines and gnaw the bark of trees, at times completely encircling them so that they die. The gopher cuts the roots of plants beneath the surface, then pulls the rest of the plant into the burrow. They can consume and destroy large amounts of vegetation.

Moles eat worms which is meat. Gophers eat plants which is greenery. One way to remember the difference is to think of the letters "M" vs. "G". Moles eat Meat. Gophers eat Greens.