Pocket Gopher

Pocket gophers are common and destructive rodents found throughout the agricultural zones of the Prairies. Often a young Pocket Gopher looking for its own place to live will invade rural and residential areas. Pocket gophers, commonly miss-identified as moles, are burrowing rodents that feed on the roots of vegetation. Pocket gophers are grayish-brown in color with short legs and stout bodies. Their bodies are 12 to cm long with a cm nearly naked tail. They have large claws on the front feet and chisel-like front teeth, both ideal for digging and gnawing. Pocket gophers have small eyes set far apart and their ears are almost absent. Their lips close behind the teeth, allowing them to cut roots or dig burrows without getting soil in their mouth. They get their name from the fur-lined cheek pouches they use to carry food and nesting material.

Pocket gophers spend most of their life underground. Each pocket gopher has its own extensive burrow system containing tunnels, a nest and a food storage area. A single pocket gopher burrow system may include as much as 240 meters of tunnels that are 6 to 12 cm in diameter. The feeding tunnels are generally 10 to 20 cm below the surface but nesting and food storage areas may extend 2.5 meters below the surface.

They are most active in the spring and fall when they collect food for storage. During winter and the heat of the summer they retire to the lower portions of their burrows. Pocket gophers are extremely unsociable and will fight one another upon meeting, except during the mating season. In the Prairies, mating occurs in May and June, with the young being born 30 to 40 days later.