The Love Life of the Pocket Gopher: Sex, Myths, & Facts of the Pocket Gopher Part 1

Angry Gopher Caught Outside the Burrow

This Gopher is in Defense Mode

Nothing steams up a boy gopher more than meeting another boy gopher. They squeal and hiss and clatter their teeth. Each tries to grab the other one by the nose with their long upper and lower front teeth. They hang on until the other one or both of them bleed to death. Sometimes they give up and live another day, but gophers are hemophiliacs, so it’s a bloody battle.

It is hard to understand why gophers have such a rotten disposition. They are cute, dark, furry animals about the size of a rat with long front teeth, whiskers, small little feet and tails, and tiny little ears. They live in an underground burrow with many rooms, including storerooms full of more food than they can ever eat. They even have a room for an inside toilet. Gophers are constantly rearranging their rooms. They are like underground bulldozers, closing off one room and building a tunnel to another new room. When their toilet gets full, they close it off too and build another toilet. Gophers are really very clean. They only go in their toilet.

Gopher Stash of Acorns

Food cache of acorns.

The only time the boy gopher wants to be near a girl gopher is when the she wants to mate. Usually, there is abundance of food and usually in the spring or the fall, but if there’s lots of food, they mate as much as they want. The boy gopher gets the urge and goes hunting the girl gophers. The girls stay in their burrows and wait to meet boy gophers. When the boy finds the girl, they make it together. Then he returns to his own burrow. If they should meet again, they would go for the nose and hang on. Is this love? Freaky.

The pregnant girl gopher has a lot to do. She fills her storerooms with fresh roots and green, juicy stems, which is why farmers kill gophers. Gophers eat roots and leaves and seeds and stems and can do extensive crop damage. So farmers trap them and poison them. Men are not the only enemies gophers have to worry about. Owls, foxes, skunks, and other animals will hunt the gopher while she (or he) is out gathering food. And snakes and weasels can come into her burrow and kill her or him when they are at home.

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