Botta’s Pocket Gopher

The photo was taken in Rose Canyon © Karen Straus/San Diego Audubon Society

Fun Facts:

*This animal moves through the soil using its strong front legs and neck.

* During their burrowing they mix air, water, plant and animal wastes, microbes, and minerals, which makes the soil richer.

* Gophers make and live in burrow systems from a few inches to ten feet below the ground. Their burrows consist of a large den and connecting tunnels.

*There can be up to 15 connecting tunnels and the length can total 61 meters or 200 feet.

It is easy to see why gophers help turn over and aerate the soil. A burrow system inhabited by just one gopher may be 100 feet long. A gopher digs with its front teeth, which extends outside its lips even when its mouth is closed, as well as with its sharp front claws. It then pushes the soil out of the burrow and seals the entrance with an earthen plug. The “pocket” refers to the fur-lined pouches outside its mouth that it uses to carry food. Gophers do not see or hear well, but their sensitive whiskers help them navigate in their dark underground world. They eat only plants, especially roots, and spend 90 percent of their time underground. No wonder hawks, owls, bobcats, foxes, coyotes, and skunks eat them. Weasels and snakes pursue them into their burrows.


Do Botta’s pocket gophers help the ecosystem?

Click here for the answer:

These rodents are extremely vital for their ability to enrich the soil. By pushing minerals up from deeper sections of their burrows toward the surface, they mix air, water, plant remnants, animal wastes, and microorganisms.