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Pocket Gophers: Geomyidae

Pocket Gophers And People

Pocket gophers play an important role in the ecosystem in which they live. They loosen and enrich the soil when they burrow. The occupied or abandoned burrows of these rodents are used extensively by other animals for shelter or foraging.


Studies have shown that relationships among species of pocket gophers mirror relationships among species of chewing lice, suggesting they have a long history of living together. Lice are small organisms that live, grow, and eat on other organisms. When pocket gophers mate, the lice on one gopher can jump to the other gopher to mate with the lice infesting it. Since pocket gophers mate only with their own species, the lice are limited to mating with other lice that live on that same species of pocket gopher. In this way, as pocket gophers formed separate species, the lice that live on them are also likely to form separate species.

Some people consider these animals to be pests. In some areas, a single pocket gopher can destroy a family garden in less than a month. Their burrows can harm agricultural fields, causing extensive crop damage. They can consume a great deal of the underground parts of plants. Commercial farmers may trap and poison pocket gophers. Humans have also destroyed or altered these animals natural habitat, causing a decline in the population of some of these species. Some people in Latin America consider the meat of the pocket gopher to be a delicacy, luxury.

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