Gophers are heavily built, and most are moderately large, ranging from 12 to 30 cm (4.7 to 12 in) in length. A few species reach weights approaching 2.2 lbs. Males are always larger than the females and can be nearly double their weight. Most species have brown fur which often closely matches the color of the soil in which they live. Their most characteristic feature is their large cheek pouches, from which the word "pocket" in their name derives. These pouches are fur-lined, and can be turned inside out. They extend from the side of the mouth well back onto the shoulders. Pocket Gophers have small eyes and a short, hairy tail which they use to feel around tunnels when they walk backwards.
All Pocket Gophers are burrowers and are hoarders using their cheek pouches for transporting food back to their burrows destroying crop, garden vegetation while creating holes that can cause injury to livestock. Gophers are destructive rodents causing damage annually to parks, ranches, vineyards, golf courses and farming operations. Their presence is unambiguously announced by the appearance of mounds of fresh dirt about 8 - 12 inches in diameter, sometimes larger. These destructive pest like moist soil, so you will often find them in lawns, gardens or farms. Because of this, some species are considered and agriculture pest. They may also damage trees in forest. Although they will attempt to flee when threatened, they may attack other animals, including cats and humans, and can inflict serious bites with their long sharp teeth.
These rodents 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.
Depending on the species and local conditions there is a specific annual breeding season, or they 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 weaned at around forty days.
A Pocket Gopher usually tunnels 12 to 18 inches below the ground surface with their dens or burrows being 6 feet deep in frost free climates and 8 to 10 feet in northern climates. Pocket gophers do not hibernate and can produce up to 3 liters per year with the first litter reaching sexual maturity in nine to twelve months.
Pocket gopher mounds are vastly different from moles or ground squirrels. These mounds are fan shaped which are the result of the pocket gopher excavating dirt from the main tunnel through a lateral tunnel and up through the surface. In most cases, the tunnel entrance at the mound is located at the base of the fan at the 45 degree angle.
Pocket gophers can be active at anytime of day or night. In most cases, activity usually decreases by late morning and resumes in late afternoon due to cooler soil temperatures and increased soil moisture.
There are 3 things to remember when treating Pocket Gophers which are unique to this species. Patience, Persistence and Understanding!
Patience is the key when treating an invasive species like pocket gophers. Since they are migrating species, totally eliminating them from an infested area may not be possible on a long term basis.
Persistence to maintain a treatment regimen which will reduce the gopher population considerably with each and every application. The more you keep your regimen, the fewer pocket gophers exist now and in the future.
Understanding the habits of these animals. Pocket gophers can tunnel a hundred feet or more per night, excavate over a ton of soil per season, cause erosion problems and cost farmers and ranchers money in lost crops, damaged equipment, injured animals and unsightly landscape.
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