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The Underground World: Gopher vs. Groundhog

gopher vs. groundhog

Today we will be comparing two sneaky little rodents: Gopher vs. groundhog!

People who think gophers and groundhogs are the same are right to an extent since they both are burrowing rodents, but they are nonetheless different animals. These animals may have similar traits and appearances, but the differences between these two are essential to note.

Gopher
Gopher

Animal lovers and wildlife hunters can list multiple factors through which people can tell a gopher apart from a groundhog. People who consider gophers to be a type of rodent and link groundhogs to rats need to stop right there – this is not the case!

They are two underground animals that have different behavioral traits. Apart from the general physique, each animal’s appearance is quite different from the other. Animal enthusiasts are still learning more about these interesting animals. 

These are just misconceptions people have regarding these two. Gophers and groundhogs belong to different families and are likely to behave very differently from each other. Before we dig into the differences between the gopher vs. groundhog, let’s learn a little more about them.

What is a Gopher?

gopher vs. groundhog

Gophers are small ground-dwelling creatures who are associated with rodents. They are found in North and Central America. These are tiny creatures that do not stand taller than 8 inches.

Gophers tend to stay underground in borrows, digs, and holes, which keeps them safe from prey. They feed on carrots and underground potatoes. As groundhogs are linked with squirrels, gophers are associated with rodents.

What is a Groundhog?

gopher vs. groundhog

Groundhogs, commonly known as woodchucks, are found in North America. They have many similar traits to squirrels, such as their physical appearance. These live low and can reach a height of almost 2 ft. If not, it means that there is a high rate of predators in the area.

The first and easiest way to tell whether you are witnessing a groundhog is by looking at the teeth. A gopher’s teeth are always visible.

How to Tell Apart them apart: Gopher vs. Groundhog?

Although both are low-lying animals who stick to ground level, there are still several factors that both do not unite on. The weight, physical appearance, behavior, and attitude, along with several other attributes, do not coincide between the gopher vs. groundhog. These are all elements to bear in mind when telling them apart.

Height and Weight

Gopher
Gopher

Height and weight is a critical factor that helps people tell them apart. If you have an underground hole with a radius of around 4 inches wide, then the habitat belongs to a gopher.

Moreover, suppose the enclosure is more than 8 inches wide. In that case, you are standing beside a groundhog’s house since groundhogs are more significant in height and weight.

Gopher’s weight is no more than 2-3 pounds. Adult groundhogs weigh more than 10 pounds.

Teeth

Groundhog
Groundhog

Gophers’ teeth are also a giveaway, they have bright yellow teeth which are visible. This is the easiest trait that will help you tell a gopher apart from a rodent or a groundhog.

Moreover, gophers prefer to store food in their cheeks which is why they have round cheeks.

Skin

Gopher
Gopher

On the contrary, a groundhog does not have any fur. It is hairless, unlike other ground-level animals. It is also more in weight. To compensate for the lack of fur, the groundhog has thick skin. Their physique is also muscular with transitional legs.

Claws

Groundhog
Groundhog

Gophers have tiny feet, which are generally lighter in color, such as beige or pink. The color of a groundhog’s feet is dark – its paws are dark brown and curved at the top, which helps them dig deeper.

Tail

Gopher
Gopher

Furthermore, another physical trait that highlights their difference is the tail. Groundhogs have seats that are covered in fur and are shorter in length. Groundhogs can even climb trees because their tails assist them in doing so.

Gopher’s tail is small and weak. Unlike the groundhog, their bottom is bald. It is hairless, although not as coarse as a rat’s tail.

Species

Groundhog
Groundhog

There are around 35 species of gopher, while groundhogs have 14 species.

Behavior

Gopher
Gopher

Groundhogs are omnivorous, which means they feed on dead animals or meat. They only leave their tunnels after the sun has set, as they prefer to stay in darkness.

Gophers are herbivores and feed on plants such as potatoes and tomatoes. They make underground tunnels through which they move from one place to another. 

Life Span 

Groundhog
Groundhog

Living conditions and prey availability are the primary factors deciding how long any animal can live and thrive. Common predators of gophers and groundhogs include foxes and coyotes. A groundhog tends to live up to 6 years.

On the other hand, gophers typically only live for half as long as groundhogs, i.e., three years.

What are the Similarities Between Gophers vs. Groundhogs?

Gopher
Gophers

Gophers and groundhogs are different animals with different abilities. However, they do have some common ground that needs to be clarified initially. Amidst all the differences, there are some common traits in both; let’s look at the gopher vs. groundhog.

Both animals fall under the family of rodents. Rodents are an animal group within which gophers, groundhogs, rats, beavers, and squirrels are all included.

Moreover, both prefer to live underground, digging holes and tunnels. Gophers and groundhogs are dark in color, mainly in dark shades of brown. They are furry creatures with tiny feet and small claws which cannot climb trees.

These animals like to live in small enclosed spaces, and you would need help finding them on ground level. Moreover, doctors do not recommend keeping either at home as pets as they do not tend to stay in cages. If kept in a cage, they will not live long.

This species usually goes into hibernation in winter and comes out when the weather is warmer. They dig tunnels underground and are likely to be in areas where the bush is thick.

How to Keep Your Garden Free of Gophers and Groundhogs

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The primary reason why it’s essential to know the differences between a groundhog and a gopher is that both can invade your garden or even your house, creating a lot of mess and hassle for you.

If you have a vegetable garden and your premises are invaded, you must act fast. Not only are the holes wide enough to make your trip, but the loss of vegetables and plants will be tragic too.

People who are fond of gardening and have invested in vegetables in the backyard are always cautious of groundhogs and gophers. These wild animals can damage your vegetables and spoil the whole fertile land. Therefore, we have listed some things you can do at home to make your yard gopher-free.

The first thing that you need to do is have patience. These animals can dig deep into the ground. The surface may not appear affected, but the attack can be made anytime. You might fill one hole one day and witness a new spot the next day. Therefore, patience is the most crucial key.

Making sure which animal you are targeting

Before you set a trap or find a respective medicine to target the animal, be sure which animal it is. The last thing you want to do is to kill a house-friendly animal that benefits your garden’s ecosystem.

Moreover, some preventive measures might not work on the other animal. You would be just wasting your time and energy on the wrong animal who is not even affected by your measures.

Fencing

This can easily avoid or lessen the number of groundhogs or gophers entering the vegetable garden. The idea of exclusion will help you safe-keep the area around your precious plants. This will also halt other pests in the area.

To make the fence, you must ensure a heavy chicken wire covers the area. Adding a thick mesh will also be helpful. The height of the wall should be more than 3 feet and the top of the wire should be bent at a 45-degree angle outward for added protection.

The fencing wire must be at least a foot underground. This will allow the fence to stand firm against animal attacks or harsh winds. The bottom of the wall must also be bent at a 45-degree angle outward.

Your fence can also be electrocuted in case any groundhog tries to get inside, and it would be instantly caught dead. Add an alarm to notify you if any animal tries to get inside. Trim unnecessary grass around the wiring. 

The fence should be clear so wires can be sorted out whenever you feel like it. Put a warning sign in front of the yard to avoid human interaction as the fence is electrocuted.

Gas Cylinders

Another way of getting rid of groundhogs and gophers is by using gas cartridges effectively, which can be bought from any garden supply store.

What happens in this method is that these cylinders contain gas chemicals that are injected inside the burrow.

The chemicals released into the ground can kill the gopher living inside. Therefore, if you plan to use this method, please ensure which animal you are targeting, as this may kill an animal you did not intend to.

This method should be used by adults who are well aware of gardening. Since harmful chemicals are involved, do not use this method on a construction site. No children should be around these toxic fumes.

Removing Brush Piles

Habitat modification is another way to ensure the number of gophers and groundhogs in the area is reduced to zero. In this method, you will remove all the food sources these animals thrive on. Remove overgrown bushes and regions along with any wild plants. No place should be suitable for a gopher to build its house around. As a result, there will be no habitat formation by either gophers or groundhogs.

Scarecrows

This is an orthodox way of getting rid of unwanted animals. Although this is an old way and people need help finding it more effective, planting a scarecrow will work fine if you are looking for something quick that can be readily done at home.

Along with scarecrows, you need to move around in the area. Hire a guard or give your kids a challenge – anything to cause lots of activity in the area where you suspect the rodents to be hanging out. This will only provide the gopher or groundhog time to form itself out from the ground.

Predator Urine

Predator urine helps keep several animals away from your yard. This product is readily available in the market and is not very costly, so it is always worth a try.

According to the research done by Cornell Cooperative Extension, it was deduced that spraying predator urine on the bottom of trees can keep more than 90% of groundhogs away from the area.

Moreover, this product can be sprayed on the tunnel through which this animal escapes into the burrow. This will prevent groundhogs or a gopher from navigating through the tunnel and eventually leaving the premises.

Remember to re-spray your lawn with the predator urine after it has rained. You can spray the product in different areas of your property at other times of the day. This will keep the animal surprised.

Domestic Remedies

Many people always use home remedies that help eliminate gophers and groundhogs. Note that no scientific reasoning back these remedies, so if you practice them, you should be open to not witnessing any results.

Gardeners often practice these remedies, and they are perfectly suited for those on a low budget. Moreover, some people are uncomfortable using a method as cruel as gas cartridges, so a natural and easy way out is best.

Common home remedies include spraying castor oil in areas where the burrow has been made. Groundhogs do not like castor oil, so pouring them into the borrow can make them run away.

Moreover, some people have addressed how placing haircutting around the ground has proved successful too. If you have a cat at home, you can use its litter to scare the animal away. Placing a cloth soaked in ammonia around the groundhog’s hole has worked in some cases too.

FAQs

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What smell do gophers and groundhogs hate?

Both these animals have been found to have sensitive noses, as they cannot tolerate pungent smells. The smell of rosemary, mint, sage, lavender, and oregano are popular products with scents that these animals cannot stand.

Are gophers and groundhogs the same?

No, these two animals are not the same. Both are ground-level animals who prefer to stay in closed spaces, but gophers have a height of around 7 inches, while groundhogs can be as tall as 21 inches. Moreover, their distinguished teeth and tails help people tell them apart.

Can a groundhog bite me?

Like most animals, a groundhog is likely to bite you only if they feel threatened. If a groundhog senses a human around its baby, it might attack you in defense.

Can I keep a gopher as a pet?

Keeping a gopher as your pet is not the ideal situation. Gophers like to dig tunnels and prefer to stay underground, where they stay cozy and comfortable. Keeping them in a cage will make it unlikely for them to grow and they wouldn’t lead a happy life.

What diseases can a groundhog and gopher spread?

People who have been around these two wild animals are likely to be victims of fever, throat ache, and flu that require an entire course of medication to overcome.

What do gophers feed on?

Gophers eat plants and vegetables, like potatoes. They thrive on vegetation, such as roots and bulbs. Areas with fertile vegetation are most likely to welcome gophers.

Gopher vs. groundhog: In a Nutshell

Groundhog
Groundhog

Everyone wants their outdoor space to be an escape from the indoor hustle. While some people prefer to do gardening, some enjoy hosting a barbeque with friends. Therefore, the backyard should be a serene safe-space; any animal intrusion is the last thing you would want here.

Gophers and groundhogs are two common underground animals that are most likely to damage your vegetation. Therefore, first, you need establish whether it’s a gopher vs. groundhog before you know which precautionary method to take.

Groundhogs are around 20 inches in height, while gophers tend to be no more than 10 inches. Moreover, gophers feed on vegetation, while groundhogs thrive on dead insects and animals.

Both these animals can be avoided by spraying the yard with predator urine or injecting chemical gas inside any enclosed underground space. Make sure to take these actions on time to prevent a gophers attack on your vegetable garden that you have been nurturing for years.

Thank you for reading this article on the gopher vs. groundhog! Now, have you ever wondered how much male and female cats differ?

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