gophers are difficult to control. Thomomys species, are burrowing
rodents that get their name from the fur-lined cheek pouches, or
pockets, they use for carrying food and nesting materials. Pocket
gophers are very well equipped for digging, tunneling with their
powerfully built legs; large-clawed front paws; short fur that doesnt
cake in wet soils; small eyes and ears; and highly sensitive whiskers
that assist with moving about in the dark. A gopher has lips that
also are unusually adapted for their lifestyle; they can close them
behind their four large teeth to keep dirt out of their mouths when
using their teeth for digging.
of pocket gophers are found in California, with Bottas pocket gopher,
T. bottae, being most common. Depending on the species, they are
6 to 10 inches long. For the most part, gophers remain underground
in their burrow system, although youll sometimes see them
feeding at the edge of an open burrow, pushing dirt out of their
tunnel , or moving to a new area.
of fresh dirt are the best sign of a gophers presence. Gophers
form mounds as they dig tunnels and push the loose dirt to the surface.
The hole, which is off to one side of the mound, usually is plugged.
gopher can create and control many mounds a day. In dry areas, mound
building is most pronounced during spring or fall when the soil
is moist and easy to dig. In wet areas such as lawns, flower beds,
and gardens, digging conditions usually are optimal year round,
and mounds can appear at any time. In snow regions, gopher control
and create burrows in the snow, resulting in some long, earth cores
on the surface when the snow melts.
BIOLOGY / BEHAVIOR
gopher control will live in a burrow system that can cover an area
up to 2,000 square feet. The burrows are usually about 2 to 3 1/2"
in diameter. Feeding tunnels are usually 6 to 12 inches below ground,
and the nest and food storage room can be as deep as 6 feet. Gophers
seal the openings to the burrow system with earth plugs. Short,
sloping lateral tunnels connect the main burrow system to the surface;
gophers create these while pushing dirt to the surface to construct
the main burrow.
dont usually hibernate and are active all year, although you
might not see any fresh mounds. They can be active at all hours
of the day.
usually live alone in their burrow system, except when females are
caring for their young or during breeding season. Gopher densities
can be as high as 60 or more per acre in irrigated alfalfa fields
or in vineyards. Gophers reach sexual maturity about 1 year of age
and can live up to 3 years. In dryer areas, breeding usually occurs
in late winter and early spring, resulting in 1 litter per year;
in irrigated sites, gophers can produce up to 3 litters per year.
Litters usually average 5 to 6.
gophers are herbivorous and feed on a wide variety of vegetation
but generally prefer herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees. Gophers
use their sense of smell to locate food. Most commonly they feed
on roots and fleshy portions of plants they encounter while digging.
However, they sometimes feed aboveground, venturing only a body
length or so from their tunnel opening. Burrow openings used in
this manner are called feed holes. You can identify
them by the absence of a dirt mound and by a circular band of clipped
vegetation around the hole. Gophers also will pull entire plants
into their tunnel from below. In snow-covered regions, gophers can
feed on bark several feet up a tree by burrowing through the snow.
gophers often invade yards and gardens, feeding on many gardens,
ornamentals, vines, shrubs, and trees. One gopher in a garden can
cause a lot of damage in a very short time. Gophers also chew and
damage plastic water lines and lawn sprinkler systems. Their tunnels
can divert and carry off irrigation water, which will lead to soil
erosion. Mounds on lawns will interfere with mowing equipment and
ruin the well kept grass.