Pocket Gopher

Pocket gopher with a view of its long, sharp claws
Pocket gopher, with a view of its digging claws

NPS

 
Black track of a pocket gopher
Pocket gopher track

Scientific Name

Thomomys talpoides

Identification

  • 6–10 inches long, 2.6–6.3 ounces.
  • Very small eyes and ears; brown or tan smooth fur; short tail; long front claws for burrowing; large external pouches for carrying food.

Habitat

  • Only range restriction seems to be topsoil depth, which limits burrowing.
  • Preyed upon by owls, badgers, grizzly bears, coyotes, weasels, and other predators.
  • Snakes, lizards, ground squirrels, deer mice, and other animals use their burrows.
  • In the top 6–8 inches below the surface they forage for forbs, some grasses and underground stems, bulbs, and tubers.

Behavior

  • Transport food in cheek pouches to underground cache. Grizzly bears sometimes dig up these caches, including an unsuspecting gopher.
  • Do not hibernate, but instead burrow into the snow; often fill tunnels with soil forming worm-like cores that remain in the spring after snow melts.
  • Breed in May and April; one litter of five young per year.
  • Burrow systems are elaborate and often bi-level; can be 400–500 feet long.
  • Very territorial; only one per burrow.
 
A wolf standing on a snowy bank near brown grass howls

Mammals

Home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states.

Last updated: July 12, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

Phone:

307-344-7381

Contact Us