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Pocket Gophers: Geomyidae

Physical Characteristics

Pocket gophers have stout, heavy set bodies that have a tube-like shape. The length of their bodies varies depending upon the species from 5 to 14 inches (13 to 36 centimeters). Males are generally larger than females. Their legs are relatively short and powerful. The five claws on their thick front legs are long, sharp, and curved. The third claw is the longest. Their hands are broad.

The pocket gopher does not appear to have a neck. They have short, almost hairless tails, which are extremely sensitive to the touch. Eyes and ears are small, and surrounded by numerous hairs that prevent soil from getting in. They have large and sharp incisors, chisel-shaped teeth at the front of the mouth. They also have whiskers that extend from their nose.

The "pocket" part of their name refers to fur-lined pouches, one on each side of their mouth, in which they carry food. The name gopher comes from the French word gaufre meaning waffle or honeycomb, and refers to the network of passages that it digs. The pouches open into the mouth and extend from the mouth region back to the shoulders. When filled with food, the pouches make the pocket gopher's head appear almost twice its size. Pocket gophers can turn these pouches inside out for cleaning.

Pocket gophers have loose and flexible skin. The skin is thick around the head and throat. Fur color varies widely, even within a species. The color generally matches the color of freshly turned soil, a light brown to almost black. Fur is generally soft, and is short in species living in hot environments.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsPocket Gophers: Geomyidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Pocket Gophers And People, Valley Pocket Gopher (thomomys Bottae): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS