All About the Plains Pocket Gopher

A Plains Pocket Gopher is a rodent. A rodent is a small mammal that has gnawing teeth for chewing. The name "Plains Pocket Gopher" is because of their cheek pouches on their cheeks. This gopher has 2 prominent teeth for chewing. This Pocket Gopher is related to the Ground Squirrel. It has long front and back claws for digging its burrow which is about 800 feet deep. It eats roots, tubers, bulb, carrots, vegetables, grass, nuts, and sometimes plants.

It is mostly seen on the ground.

Pocket Gophers are active day and night, They guard their house fiercly. It gives birth to about 8 babies. The gopher lives on pastures, grasslands, and praries. Gophers don't hibernate. A gopher looks chunky. It has a short tail and is nearly hairless. Its about 5-1/2 to 9 ins. long and its tail is about 2 - 4-1/2 inches long. The Pocket Gopher has 2 distinct grooves on the outside of each upper incisor. Gophers prefar to live alone. Their enemies can prey on them. There are 12 other kinds of gophers.



Plains Pocket Gopher

Physical Characteristics

"Identification: Head and body 5 1/2-9in. (140-229mm); tail 2-4 1/2in. (51-113mm); wt. 4 1/2-12 1/2oz. (127-354g). Largest in the North, smallest in the South; males larger than females. Color varies from yellowish tawny to browns; nearly black in Illinois. Spotted and albino individuals fairly common. May be distinguished from other pocket gophers (except South Texas Pocket Gopher) by the 2 distinct grooves down front of each upper incisor. Skull...has 20 teeth. There are 6 mammae." (1)


"Grassland, alfalfa fields, pastures, roadsides, and railroad rights-of-way."(1)


"Pocket gophers eat a wide variety of plants. Above ground they take leafy vegetation from the vicinity of burrow openings; underground they devour succulent roots and tubers. They often prefer forbs and grasses, but diet shifts seasonally according to the availability of food and the gophers' needs for nutrition and water. For example, water-laden cactus plants may become a major dietary component during the hot and dry summer months in arid habitats. The external cheek pouches are filled with parts of plants by dextrous motions of the forepaws for transportation to cache storage areas in the burrow. The storage areas are usually sealed from the main tunnel system." (2)

Reproductive Characteristics

"Breeds in April-July in North, Feb.-Aug. in South.

Young: Usually 3-5 (1-8); 1 litter a year in North, 2 or more in the South; gestation period, 18-19 days." (1)


"Burrows to 300 ft. (91m) long; nests in underground tunnels in North; in South some nest, in winter, in large mounds that they build up on the surface."



Plains Pocket Gopher(Geomys bursarius)


the plains pocket gopher was designated rare in 1979; in 1990, the designation known as rare was changed to a new designation, vulnerable


the plains pocket gopher is cinnamon brown in color, with a lighter belly; the tail has some white hairs; this gopher has four large claws on its front feet the males are longer than the females; males measure 285 to 298 mm and weigh 226.5 to 343 g

Population and Distribution

in Canada, this plains pocket gopher occupies a small area in southern Manitoba


in the past, the plains pocket gopher inhabited the tall-grass prairie, but this habitat has been severely reduced the plains pocket gopher is now found on the edges of agricultural fields, railroad right-of-ways and sandy meadows

General Biology

plains pocket gophers reach sexual maturity at one year of age a litter contains 1 to 8 young females give birth once a year the gestation period is of 18 to 19 days

Limiting Factors

habitat loss is an important limiting factor, since the main habitat for plains pocket gophers, the tall-grass prairie, has been reduced drastically environmental contamination is a possible limiting factor competition for food and habitat with the northern pocket gopher is another factor limiting the expansion of the habitat used by the plains pocket gopher


the plains pocket gopher is not protected


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