10 surprising facts about gophers you may not know 1

Pocket Gophers are Solitary

Gophers can have territories of up to 2000ft2 (166m2) and may occasionally share opposite ends of their burrow if regions overlap; in general, though, they mostly prefer to be away from other gophers.

They Store Food in their Cheeks

Gophers, a little like hamsters, can hold food in cheek pouches called pockets, which is where they get their name. Unlike hamsters, these cheek pouches are external and lined with fur.  They can be used to carry food underground, storing it for later.

Gopher Are Banned in New Zealand

Like many animals, Gophers are on the list of banned items in New Zealand. Due to their potential to affect the soil, the country has declared them a serious potential threat to the ecosystem and has measures in place to make sure no gopher comes near.

They Can Empty Their Pockets

Since those furry cheek pockets are in their face, it’s a bit tricky to reach in and pull anything out. Because of this, pocket gophers turn their cheeks inside out. This helps them access the contents and clean the dirt out for the next round of shopping.

They’re Fossorial

Fossorial animals have certain physical characteristics that make digging easier. Since they typically can’t wield a pickaxe, their bodies have developed into built-in diggers.  Common adaptations to digging are a wedge-shaped head, a body no wider than the shoulders, short limbs, and tiny eyes. 

They Navigate Backwards With Their Tails

While gophers have a very short and seemingly redundant tail, there is more to that than meets the eye. It’s been discovered that the tail is particularly well-innervated (filled with nerves) and vascular (filled with blood vessels).  This suggests that it’s used as a sensory organ, and explains how gophers are so competent when moving backward. This ability allows them to narrow their tunnels and retreat from predators quickly.

They Can Close Their Mouth Behind Their Teeth

When using your face like a shovel, there are certain occupational hazards. Gophers are prepared for this. They have small eyes to reduce the risk of injury from burrowing, and they’re also able to prevent getting a mouthful by closing their lips behind their front teeth. This allows them to use their teeth for digging without the consequent need to spend the rest of the day flossing.

They Share Their Homes With Some Interesting Insects

Gopher burrows, while usually containing only one gopher, are home to a curious array of insects. The diversity of insects cohabiting with gophers has piqued the interest of biologists and research still needs to be expanded in the area to find out exactly why these two very different animals particularly enjoy one another’s company.

They’re Hard To Catch!

Gophers have great predatory defenses. They can retreat quickly into their burrows and rapidly force an earth plug into the entrance to close it if a snake tries to enter.

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Source: https://factanimal.com/gopher/