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  • Minneapolis Educational Article of the Month - About Gopher: life cycle, habitat, diet, behavior

About Gopher: life cycle, habitat, diet, behavior

Gophers, also known as “pocket gophers” are among the many types of rodents from the animal kingdom. This variety is scientifically classified under Geomyidae. Their families have about 35 different species living across Central and North America.

Appearance

A gopher’s body measures about 6 to 8 inches long and normally weighs around 0.5lbs. With its tail measuring only1 to 2 inches, a gopher’s tail is considerably shorter as compared to the other family of rodents. As for the overall impression, some of its species could weigh as much as 2lbs where the female are slightly smaller than their male counterpart.

  • Brown colored fur
  • Protruding cheeks
  • Large reversible pouches
  • Fur-lined pouches
  • Short hairy tail
  • Tiny eyes
  • Small ears
  • Can walk backwards
  • Has sensitive whiskers
  • Paws in front have claws
Life cycle

All newly born gophers are blind and weak and needed at least 40 days weaning period. These rodents stay with their mothers until such time they are also capable of building their own underground tunnels. After going through this phase, a gopher can live from 1 up to 3 years. This is only possible if there are no predators or any form of disease threatening its life. Some species can in fact, live up to 5 to 7 years in the wild. However, most of the time, other animals in the wild prey on these animals before they can reach their full life span. Examples of these are;
  • Hawks
  • Snakes
  • Weasels
Habitat

Because gophers are territorial and more comfortable being alone, each of them stays inside their own burrow. Male and female gophers only dwell on each other’s places during mating season. Though some gophers can actually breed all throughout the year, most of them gather around summer and springtime to breed.
  • Soft, muddy soil
  • Edible plant in the surrounding
Diet

Gophers love to feed on juicy plants and vegetables. This is the very same reason why some of their species have been labeled as nuisances in agricultural lands. Their diet consists of the following;
  • Radish
  • Lettuce
  • Carrot
  • Shrub
  • Root
  • Grub
  • Worm
Behavior

Almost all gophers can build a complex underground tunnel as a means of refuge. They dig for food, and create their nests inside these burrows to survive. It’s easy to identify between a gopher’s den and a squirrel’s because of the gopher’s typical behavior.
  • Entry to the burrows are found in different areas of the lawn, gardens and even agricultural properties
  • They usually dig where the soils are moist
  • Gophers leave their dens at the sign of threat but they can (always) manage to come back or build another one
  • A gopher can use its sharp teeth to attack (e.g. people and house pets) when they have no sense of safety and solitude


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