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Pocket gophers: An entry from Thomson Gale's Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia by Thomson Gale

Gopher Habitat

Gopher Habitat Gopher habitat is limited to the western hemisphere, however, they can be found in a variety of habitats in North and Central America including pastures, prairies, grasslands, and perhaps your yard.

Gopher Habitat-Range

The specific range of the gopher is, as indicated earlier, limited to the western hemisphere of the earth and does not extend into South America. Pocket gophers can be found from Panama in Central America northward to Alberta in Canada with all but one (1) species, the southeastern Pocket Gopher.  These animals are found only in the western 2/3rds of the United States. Closer to home the range of individual gophers while varying a tiny bit, depending on specific species is a few acres.

SCIENTIFIC NAME

COMMON NAME

RANGE

Orthogeomys cavator

Chiriqui pocket gopher

Costa Rica and Panama

Geomys arenarius

Desert Pocket Gopher

Southwest New Mexico and some western parts of Texas.

Geomys pinetis

Southeastern Pocket Gopher

Central Florida north thru the southern part of Georgia and west into the southeastern part of Alabama.

Pappogeomys bulleri

Buller’s Pocket Gopher

Southern Oregon through Southern Idaho south into central Mexico and Baja California.

Thomomys talpoides

Northern Pocket Gopher

Northern half of western US into Canada.

Orthogeomys grandis

Giant Pocket Gopher

South Pacific slope of Mexico south to Honduras.

Cratogeomys neglectus

Queretaro Pocket Gopher

Northeastern part of Queretaro, Mexico.

Thomomys bottae

Botta’s Pocket Gopher

Southern half of Western US

Orthogeomys heterodus

Variable Pocket Gopher

Mountains of Central and Southern Costa Rica

Cratogeomys castanops

Yellow-faced Pocket Gopher

Southeastern corner of western Texas south through the western edge of Texas and eastern edge of New Mexico south into Mexico.

Geomys bursarius

Plains Pocket Gopher

Central Plains of US from Northern Texas and Western Louisiana north to Canada.

Thomomys bulbivorus

Camas Pocket Gopher

Willamet Valley in Oregon.

Thomomys mazama

Western Pocket Gopher

Western Washington and Oregon and northwestern portions of California.

Thomomys umbrinus

Southern Pocket Gopher

Central America with some found in southwest Arizona and Southeast New Mexico.

Pappogemys alcorni

Alcorn’s Pocket Gopher

Southwestern US and northern Mexico.

Cratogeomys fumosus

Smoky Pocket Gopher

Mexico

Cratogeomys goldmani

Goldman’s Pocket Gopher

Mexico

Cratogeomys gymnurus

Llano Pocket Gopher

Mexico

Cratogeomys merriami

Merriam’s Pocket Gopher

Mexico

Cratogeomys tylorhinus

Naked-nose Pocket Gopher

Mexico

Crateogeomys zinseri

Zinzer’s Pocket Gopher

Mexico

Geomy’s attwateri

Attwater’s Pocket Gopher

Eastern and Southern Texas.

Geomy’s Breviceps

Bairds Pocket Gopher

Eastern Texas

Geomy’s Knoxjonesi

Knox Jone’s Pocket Gopher

Southeastern New Mexico and Western/central Texas.

Geomy’s Texensis

Central Texas Pocket Gopher

Central Texas

Geomy's tropicalis

Tropical Pocket Gopher

Mexico

Orthogeomys cherri

Cherrie’s Pocket Gopher

Costa Rica

Orthogeomys caniculus

Oaxacan Pocket Gopher

Mexico

Orthogeomys dariensis

Darien Pocket Gopher

Panama

Orthogeomys hispidus

Hispid Pocket Gopher

Central America

Orthogeomys lanius

Big Pocket Gopher

Mexico

Orthogeomys matagalpae

Nicaraguan Pocket Gopher

Honduras and Nicaragua

Orthogeomys thaeleri

Thaeleri Pocket Gopher

Columbia

Orthogeomys underwoodi

Underwood’s Pocket Gopher

Costa Rica

Thomomys clusius

Wyoming Pocket Gopher

United States

Thomomys Idahoensis

Idaho Pocket Gopher

United States

Thomomys townsendii

Townsend’s Pocket Gopher

United States

Zygogeomys trichopus

Michoacan Pocket Gopher

United States

Gopher Habitat-Climate

Pocket Gophers climate restrictions vary from species to species. You will find the animals from the low coastal regions in California to elevations as high as 12,000 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountain region of the US and Canada. This extensive climate tolerance is most likely due to the fact that the animal spends most of its life in a climate controlled environment under the surface of the earth!

Gopher Habitat-Burrow Holes

This little mammal spends the majority of its time under the ground in burrow holes that are custom built for them. The burrows can range from four (4) to eighteen (18) inches below the soil surface and are normally two (2) to three and one-half (3 ½) inches in diameter. Larger gophers may present with larger holes. Burrows can vary from one (1) main tunnel with two (2) to three (3) extensions to, in some cases, a hundred or more lateral tunnels with many, many extensions; it is all a matter of preference!

Each main burrow tunnel ends with a soil plug on the surface, this is called a mound. These mounds are created as the gopher moves dirt from the earth during construction. In the winter time these mounds will also contain snow.

Gopher Habitat-Soils

Pocket gopher habitat is defined mainly upon the soil conditions of the general area. With 25 species of gopher there are many different soil types preferred, and, as a result, local populations of gophers are normally specific to one (1) particular species. Generally, sandy soil is always preferable to burrowing mammals, with clay soils being the least preferable.

Soil depth, however, is very important to this little mammal. Experts have determined that soils that are less than four (4) inches are not suitable for pocket gophers. It is theorized that in the winter months shallow soils do not provide enough insulation and become colder than deeper soils, conversely, in the heat of the summer shallow soils absorb too much heat.

Rocky soils may deter pocket gophers as well. While they will work around rocks that are one (1) inch or less in size, larger rocks will be pushed out of the way. You will be hard pressed to find pocket gophers in areas where rocks make up ten (10) percent or more of the soil structure.

Because of the great many different species of pocket gopher it is amazing to see that the types of the differences a small between types of Pocket Gopher Habitat.

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