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Gophers are fascinating creatures that belong to the family Geomyidae. They are small burrowers known for their distinctive physical features and unique behavior. In this article, we will explore the characteristics of gophers, their physical appearance, behavior, habitat, and effective methods for gopher control.

Gopher Physical Features

Gophers come in various sizes and colors depending on the species. Typically, they measure around 5 to 14 inches in length, with their tails accounting for about a third of their total length. The color of gophers can range from light brown to dark brown, enabling them to blend in with their surroundings.

One of the most noticeable features of gophers is their fur, which is dense and soft. Their fur acts as excellent insulation, keeping them warm during colder months. Additionally, gophers have small eyes and ears but possess powerful claws on their front feet, specially adapted for digging burrows.

Gopher Behavior and Habitat

Gophers are excellent burrowers and create complex tunnel systems underground. They are highly efficient when it comes to digging burrows, which serve as their homes and provide protection from predators.

When it comes to habitat preference, gophers are adaptable and can be found in a variety of environments, including fields, meadows, gardens, and even residential areas. They prefer areas with loose, sandy soil that facilitates easier burrowing.

Identifying Gopher Damage

One of the telltale signs of gophers is the presence of mounds and holes in the ground. Gophers create mounds as they dig their burrows and push the excavated soil to the surface. The mounds are usually crescent-shaped and can vary in size depending on the depth of the burrow.

In addition to mounds, the presence of visible tunnel openings or holes in your yard is another indicator of gopher activity. These openings allow gophers to access their burrows and move between them.

It’s important to note that there can be variations in gopher species, which may result in slightly different characteristics in terms of mound size, shape, and tunnel patterns. Taking these variations into account can help in identifying the specific type of gopher causing damage.

Gophers vs. Similar Rodents

While gophers share some similarities with other rodent species such as moles and voles, there are key differences that set them apart.

Firstly, gophers have a larger body size compared to moles and voles. They also have larger front feet with strong claws that enable them to dig complex burrow systems. Moles, on the other hand, have specialized front paws designed for efficient tunneling underground.

Furthermore, gophers predominantly feed on plant roots, bulbs, and underground vegetation, while moles primarily feed on earthworms and insects found in the soil. Voles, on the other hand, have a herbivorous diet and consume grass, roots, and bulbs.

Gopher Control Methods

If gophers are causing damage in your yard, it is important to understand what attracts them to your yard and how you can effectively get rid of them.

Gophers are attracted to yards with suitable food sources, such as vegetation and plant roots. By removing these food sources and making your yard less appealing, you can deter gophers from entering your property.

To effectively control gophers, it is essential to recognize gopher holes in your yard. These holes are usually 2 to 4 inches in diameter and are scattered throughout the affected area. By identifying the locations of the burrows, you can implement targeted control methods.

There are various methods for getting rid of gophers, including trapping, natural deterrents, and habitat modification. Trapping involves using devices specifically designed to capture gophers, whereas natural deterrents include planting repellent vegetation or using ultrasonic devices to discourage their presence. Habitat modification involves altering the environment to make it less suitable for gophers, such as eliminating excess moisture or reducing available food sources.


Gophers are fascinating creatures that exhibit unique physical features and behaviors. By understanding their characteristics and identifying signs of their presence, you can effectively take measures to control and mitigate the damage caused by these burrowing pests. By implementing targeted gopher control methods, you can create a gopher-free environment and protect your yard and garden.


Q: Are gophers harmful to humans?

A: Gophers are primarily considered pests due to the damage they can cause to lawns, gardens, and crops. However, they pose no direct threat to humans as they are not known to attack or transmit diseases.

Q: Can gophers damage underground utility lines?

A: While gophers are proficient diggers, they typically focus on creating burrows for shelter and foraging. However, there is a slight risk of accidental damage to underground utility lines if their burrows intersect with them. It is essential to identify and address gopher issues promptly to minimize the potential for damage.

Q: Can gophers be beneficial to the ecosystem?

A: Gophers play a role in ecosystem functioning by aerating the soil, which helps with nutrient cycling and water infiltration. Additionally, their burrows can provide shelter for other small animals. However, their propensity for damaging vegetation and crops often outweighs these potential benefits, leading to their classification as pests in many cases.

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