The most common gopher found in our local region is the Pocket Gopher, Thomomys bottae. This species is commonly called Botta’s Pocket Gopher.
Gophers are members of the rodent family. At maturity, pocket gophers are approximately 7 to 10 inches long, including the tail, and weigh 5 to 8 ounces. Males are larger than females. Botta’s pocket gopher eats only vegetable matter, and enjoys a wide variety of plants. In the wild, they love young shoots and grasses. They also eat tubers, roots, and bulbs. They are capable of pulling entire plants from beneath the ground by the roots. Pocket gophers don’t eat outside of their burrows, and spend approximately 90% of their lives beneath ground. They are a prey item to many other species of animals, so remaining safe underground is a survival instinct.
Pocket gophers aren’t choosy, and are found in all soil types. Even dense clay soil is no deterrent, because pocket gophers not only eat with their very strong teeth, they use them to dig! Burrows are an extensive system of sleeping, food storage, and latrine chambers, and are often 5 feet deep, and an extensive system of tunnels allows them for forage for plants by detecting roots. They create larger side tunnels to dispose of excavated soil. On the soil surface, the burrows are identified by fan-shaped mounds of excavated soil. The entrance is usually plugged up and remains hidden for protection.
Pocket gophers are beneficial animals in the wild. They loosen compacted soils, and their burrows and tunnels catch valuable snowmelt. When pocket gophers decide to make their homes in agricultural or residential areas, they can cause tremendous damage. When digging burrows they will chew through irrigation pipes, utility service lines, and can destroy lawns, vegetable gardens, ornamental plants and trees.
If you are experiencing a gopher problem, we can help! We use only humane methods to deal with problem gophers, and never employ the use of poisons.
High Desert Wildlife Control 760-961-5980
Photo: Gopher Burrow