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Gophers are burrowing rodents that are known for their extensive tunnel systems and destructive behavior in gardens and lawns. While they are not particularly vocal animals, they do make a variety of sounds for communication and territorial purposes. In this article, we will explore the different types of sounds that gophers make, the meaning behind these sounds, and some interesting facts about these fascinating creatures.

The Different Types of Gopher Sounds

Vocalization Sounds

Gophers use vocalization sounds to communicate with other gophers in their colony. These sounds can vary based on the situation and message being conveyed. Here are some common vocalization sounds that gophers make:

1. Chattering Noises

Gophers often produce chattering noises when they feel threatened or agitated. This sound is similar to the clacking of teeth and serves as a warning to other gophers.

2. Squeaking Sounds

Squeaking sounds are often heard during interactions between gophers, especially during mating season. These sounds can also indicate distress or discomfort.

3. Barking Noises

Gophers may emit barking noises as a territorial display to warn other gophers to stay away from their burrows.

4. Screaming Sounds

In extreme situations, gophers can emit screaming sounds when they are in pain or under attack from predators.

5. Crying Noises

Gophers may produce crying noises when they are separated from their young or when they are in distress.

6. Whistling Sounds

Whistling sounds are often used by gophers to communicate with each other over long distances. These sounds can help them locate their colony members or signal danger.

7. Crooning Sounds

Gophers may make crooning sounds when they are content, relaxed, or communicating with their offspring.

Non-Vocal Sounds

In addition to vocalization sounds, gophers also make non-vocal sounds through their physical activities. These sounds are primarily associated with their burrowing behavior and movement:

8. Digging and Gnawing Sounds

Gophers are known for their extensive digging and gnawing activities. The sounds of their claws scraping against the soil or their teeth gnawing on roots or foliage can often be heard near their burrows.

9. Moving Around Noises

When gophers move through their tunnels, they may create scraping or rustling sounds as they push through the soil or navigate through the narrow passageways.

Understanding Gopher Sound Communication

Gopher sounds play a crucial role in their communication within the colony. Each type of sound has a specific meaning and serves various purposes:

Explanation of Each Type of Sound and Its Meaning

Warning Calls:

Chattering, barking, and screaming sounds are warning calls used by gophers to alert other colony members about potential threats or danger. These sounds help in defending their territory and staying vigilant.

Mating Calls:

Squeaking sounds during mating season are used by gophers to attract potential mates and establish breeding connections.

Gophers and Chemical Communication

In addition to vocal and non-vocal sounds, gophers also rely on chemical communication through scent marking. They use specific scents to mark their territory or to attract mates.

Identifying Gopher Sounds and Differentiating from Similar Animal Sounds

It can sometimes be challenging to differentiate gopher sounds from similar animal sounds. Ground squirrels, for example, can produce sounds that are similar to those made by gophers. However, by considering the context and characteristics of the sounds, you can identify gopher sounds more accurately. Gophers typically produce a combination of vocal and non-vocal sounds, with a repertoire of chattering, squeaking, barking, and other distinct vocalizations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can Gophers Make Any Other Sounds Besides Vocalizations?

Yes, gophers can also produce non-vocal sounds through their digging, gnawing, and movement. These sounds are associated with their burrowing behavior and can be heard near their burrows.

2. How Loud Are Gopher Vocalizations?

Gopher vocalizations are generally not very loud. They are more commonly heard within the burrow system or in close proximity to the gophers. Their vocalizations are intended for communication within their colony rather than for long-distance sound projection.

Fun Facts About Gophers

Here are some interesting facts about gophers:

1. Unusual Lips of Gophers

Gophers have lips that close behind their incisors, preventing soil from entering their mouth as they dig.

2. Gophers Can Scream to Survive

In life-threatening situations, gophers are capable of emitting high-pitched screams to startle or deter predators.

3. Gophers Are Intelligent Critters

Gophers are highly adaptive and possess problem-solving abilities to overcome obstacles such as fences or other barriers.

4. Great Blue Herons Consider Gophers as Tasty Snacks

Great blue herons feed on gophers, considering them a valuable food source. They are skilled hunters of these underground critters.

5. Gophers Have the Ability to Travel Backwards

Gophers can reverse their movements and travel backward in their burrow tunnels, allowing them to navigate complex underground networks.

6. Gophers Are Omnivores

Gophers have a diverse diet that includes plant materials such as roots, shoots, and bulbs, as well as insects, snails, and other small invertebrates.

7. Alfalfa and Dandelions Are Among Gophers’ Favorite Foods

Gophers have a preference for alfalfa and dandelions, which are commonly found in their natural habitat.

8. Gophers Possess Highly Sensitive Tails

Gophers have tails that are not only used for balance but also have sensory functions, allowing them to quickly detect vibrations in their environment.

9. Gophers Are Fossorial by Nature

Gophers have adapted to a fossorial lifestyle, meaning they are well-suited for burrowing and living underground.

10. Gophers Have Voracious Appetites

Gophers can consume large quantities of plant material daily, which can sometimes lead to significant damage to gardens and landscaping.

Gopher Vocalization Recordings and Where to Find Them

If you are interested in listening to gopher vocalizations, you can find audio recordings online or from wildlife organizations that specialize in studying and documenting animal sounds. These recordings can provide valuable insights into the vocalizations made by gophers and help further our understanding of their communication patterns.

Mazama Pocket Gopher Audio Recording

The Mazama pocket gopher, a species of gopher found in the Pacific Northwest, has been widely studied, and audio recordings of their vocalizations can be found on various scientific research platforms.


Gophers may not be the most vocal animals, but they do use a range of sounds to communicate with each other and convey important messages. From warning calls to mating sounds, their vocalizations serve various purposes within their colony. By understanding these sounds and their meanings, we can gain deeper insights into the behavior and social dynamics of these fascinating burrowing rodents.

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