Pestgon FactSheet
“ If they fly they die…if they crawl they fall”

POCKET GOPHERS (Thomomys spp.)


Description:
Pocket Gophers are burrowing rodents with fine short fur, dark to light brown in color. Adults are approximately 6-12 inches long, depending on the species. They get their name from the fur-lined external cheek pouches, or pockets, that they use for carrying food and nesting materials. Having powerfully built forequarters and large-clawed front paws makes them well equipped for a digging and tunneling underground. Pocket gophers have small eyes and small external ears, and highly sensitive facial whiskers to assist movements in the dark burrows.

Biology:
The most common species of pocket gopher found in southern California, is the Botta's pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae). Although they are sometimes seen feeding at the edge of an open burrow, pushing dirt out of a burrow, or moving to a new area, gophers for the most part remain underground in their burrow system. Mounds of fresh soil are the best sign of gopher presence. Typically mounds are crescent or horseshoe-shaped. Gophers may occur in densities of up to 16 to 20 per acre and, a single pocket gopher burrow system can cover an area of 200 to 2,000 square feet.
One gopher may create several mounds in a day and are most active during spring and fall when the soil is moist and easy to dig. Pestgon notes that irrigated commercial properties such as lawns, flowerbeds, and gardens, digging conditions are usually optimal year round and mounds can appear at any time.

Pocket Gopher Mounds

Economic Impact:
Pocket gophers often invade landscapes, lawns and gardens. They feed on many landscape crops, ornamental plants, vines, shrubs, and trees, either killing or seriously damaging the plantings. A single gopher moving through a flowerbed can cause considerable damage in a very short time.
Gophers also gnaw and damage plastic water lines and lawn sprinkler systems. Their tunnels can divert and carry off irrigation water and lead to soil erosion. Mounds on lawns interfere with mowing equipment and ruin the aesthetics of well-kept turf grass. Slopes and embankments are vulnerable to serious winter erosion when gophers are not eliminated and allowed to burrow unchecked. So pocket gophers are an economic hazard to any landscaped property.

Management Methods:

Regular inspections and early detection is the key to managing pest gophers. If feasible, Pestgon may recommend the perimeter removal of weedy areas, adjacent to commercial landscapes and gardens, in order to create a buffer strip of unsuitable habitat. This can serve as an exclusion or prevention measure. In addition, Pestgon is very successful in using a variety of elimination measures, including underground toxic baits and fumigants.


Additional Links:
  • Do I Have Active Gophers?
  • http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7433.html