= Gopher =
| name = Pocket gophers
| fossil_range =
| image = Pocket-Gopher_Ano-Nuevo-SP.jpg
| image_caption = Botta's pocket gopher ('Thomomys bottae')
| taxon = Geomyidae
| authority = Bonaparte, 1845
| type_genus = 'Geomys'
| type_genus_authority =
| subdivision_ranks = Genera
| subdivision = 'Cratogeomys'
| diversity = Around 35 species in 6 genera
Pocket gophers, commonly referred to as just gophers, are burrowing
rodents of the family Geomyidae. The roughly 35 species are all
endemic to North and Central America. They are commonly known for
their extensive tunneling activities and their ability to destroy
farms and gardens.
The name "pocket gopher" on its own may refer to any of a number of
genera within the family Geomyidae. These are the "true" gophers, but
several ground squirrels in the distantly related family Sciuridae are
often called "gophers", as well. The origin of the word "gopher" is
uncertain; French 'gaufre', meaning waffle, has been suggested, on
account of the gopher tunnels resembling the honeycomb-like pattern of
holes in a waffle; another suggestion is that the word is of Muskogean
origin.A typical pocket gopher
Gophers weigh around 1/2 lb, and are about 6-8 in in body length, with
a tail 1-2 in long. A few species reach weights approaching 1 kg.
Within any species, the males are larger than the females, and can be
nearly double their weight.
Average lifespans are one to three years. The maximum lifespan for the
pocket gopher is about five years. Some gophers, such as those in the
genus 'Geomys', have lifespans that have been documented as up to
seven years in the wild.
Most gophers have brown fur that often closely matches the color of
the soil in which they live. Their most characteristic features are
their large cheek pouches, from which the word "pocket" in their name
derives. These pouches are fur-lined, can be turned inside out, and
extend from the side of the mouth well back onto the shoulders.
Gophers have small eyes and a short, hairy tail, which they use to
feel around tunnels when they walk backwards.
Pocket gophers have often been found to carry external parasites.
Common predators of the gopher include weasels, snakes, and hawks.
All pocket gophers create a network of tunnel systems that provide
protection and a means of collecting food. They are larder hoarders,
and their cheek pouches are used for transporting food back to their
burrows. Gophers can collect large hoards. Unlike ground squirrels,
gophers do not live in large communities and seldom find themselves
above ground. Tunnel entrances can be identified by small piles of
loose soil covering the opening. Burrows are in many areas where the
soil is softer and easily tunneled. Gophers often visit vegetable
gardens, lawns, or farms, as they like moist soil (see Soil
biomantle). This has led to their frequent treatment as pests.
Gophers eat plant roots, shrubs, and other vegetables such as carrots,
lettuce, radishes, and any other vegetables with juice. Some species
are considered agricultural pests. The resulting destruction of plant
life then leaves the area a stretch of denuded soil. At the same
time, the soil disturbance created by turning it over can lead to the
early establishment of ecological succession in communities of
r-selected and other ruderal plant species. The stashing and
subsequent decomposition of plant material in the gophers' larder can
produce deep fertilization of the soil.
Pocket gophers are solitary outside of the breeding season,
aggressively maintaining territories that vary in size depending on
the resources available. Males and females may share some burrows and
nesting chambers if their territories border each other, but in
general, each pocket gopher inhabits its own individual tunnel system.
Although they attempt to flee when threatened, they may attack other
animals, including cats and humans, and can inflict serious bites with
their long, sharp teeth.
Depending on the species and local conditions, pocket gophers may have
a specific annual breeding season, or may breed repeatedly through the
year. Each litter typically consists of two to five young, although
this may be much higher in some species. The young are born blind and
helpless, and are weaned around 40 days old.
'Geomys' and 'Thomomys' species are classed as "prohibited new
organisms" under New Zealand's Hazardous Substances and New Organisms
Act 1996, preventing them from being imported into the country.
Much debate exists among taxonomists about which races of pocket
gophers should be recognized as full species, and the following list
cannot be regarded as definitive.
* Family Geomyidae
** Genus 'Cratogeomys'; some authors treat this genus as a subgenus of
*** Yellow-faced pocket gopher ('Cratogeomys castanops')
*** Oriental Basin pocket gopher ('C. fulvescens')
*** Smoky pocket gopher ('C. fumosus')
*** Goldman's pocket gopher ('C. goldmani')
*** Merriam's pocket gopher ('C. merriami')
** Genus 'Geomys' - eastern pocket gophers; principally live in the
southwestern United States, east of the Sierra Nevada mountains
***Desert pocket gopher ('Geomys arenarius')
*** Attwater's pocket gopher ('G. attwateri')
*** Baird's pocket gopher ('G. breviceps')
*** Plains pocket gopher ('G. bursarius')
*** Knox Jones's pocket gopher ('G. knoxjonesi')
*** Texas pocket gopher ('G. personatus')
*** Southeastern pocket gopher ('G. pinetis')
*** Central Texas pocket gopher ('G. texensis')
*** Tropical pocket gopher ('G. tropicalis')
** Genus 'Orthogeomys' - giant pocket gophers or taltuzas; live in
Mexico, Central America, and Colombia
***Chiriqui pocket gopher ('Orthogeomys cavator')
*** Cherrie's pocket gopher ('O. cherriei')
*** Oaxacan pocket gopher ('O. cuniculus')
*** Darien pocket gopher ('O. dariensis')
*** Giant pocket gopher ('O. grandis')
*** Variable pocket gopher ('O. heterodus')
*** Hispid pocket gopher ('O. hispidus')
*** Big pocket gopher ('O. lanius')
*** Nicaraguan pocket gopher ('O. matagalpae')
*** Thaeler's pocket gopher ('O. thaeleri')
*** Underwood's pocket gopher ('O. underwoodi')
** Genus 'Pappogeomys'; live in Mexico
*** Alcorn's pocket gopher ('P. alcorni')
*** Buller's pocket gopher ('P. bulleri')
** Genus 'Thomomys' - western pocket gophers; widely distributed in
North America, extending into the northwestern US, Canada, and the
***Botta's pocket gopher ('T. bottae')
*** Camas pocket gopher ('T. bulbivorus')
*** Wyoming pocket gopher ('T. clusius')
*** Idaho pocket gopher ('T. idahoensis')
*** Mazama pocket gopher ('T. mazama')
*** Mountain pocket gopher ('T. monticola')
*** Northern pocket gopher ('T. talpoides')
*** Townsend's pocket gopher ('T. townsendii')
*** Southern pocket gopher ('T. umbrinus')
** Genus 'Zygogeomys'
*** Michoacan pocket gopher ('Zygogeomys trichopus')
Some sources also list a genus 'Hypogeomys', with one species, but
this genus name is normally used for the Malagasy giant rat, which
belongs to the family Nesomyidae.
In popular culture
* Minnesota is nicknamed the "Gopher State", and the University of
Minnesota's athletics teams are collectively known as the Golden
Gophers, led by mascot Goldy Gopher.
* Internet Gopher protocol was created at the University of Minnesota.
* Gainer the Gopher is the mascot of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in
the Canadian Football League.
* A gopher puppet is featured prominently in the film 'Caddyshack'.
* The mascot of the Go programming language is the Go Gopher.
* Gordon the Gopher is an English puppet gopher that appeared on
Children's BBC between 1985 and 1987.
* Gopher is a character in the Disney cartoon adaptations of the
children's book 'Winnie-the-Pooh'.
* Naked mole rat
Article on the Animal Diversity Web site]
All content on Gopherpedia comes from Wikipedia, and is licensed under CC-BY-SA
License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/
Original Article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gopher