Most Fascinating Facts about Gopher Tail!

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How much do you know about gophers? They’re some of the most efficient diggers in the world, but they are also known as pests. They dig and destroy anything with vegetation, but their tails have a history of their own. Ready to learn about the gopher tail? We cover everything there is to know, including 6 facts you should know about these little things. 

The Fascinating History Behind Gopher Tails

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There are many different versions of the tale of gopher tails around the world; some believe it brings luck, but the most commonly known stories are about how children and adults would turn in gopher tails for a reward. What they got in return was often a bounty of about a small fee, but in those days, it amounted to much more. It was a quick way for those who had less to gain some extra earnings, and the other benefit of this trade was that the pocket gophers lessened in numbers or moved their burrows away. Many farmers and the agriculture world wanted this. Gophers are herbivores who enjoy eating different vegetables, leaves, and roots. This posed a threat to the produce, making these animals one of the most hated in the agricultural trade. 

It decreases the food supply and the profits of agricultural owners and workers. There are other reasons that gopher tails are in demand, one of which is that they are created into fishing lures. Other reasons are that they can host many parasites and possibly bite or infect other animals, such as pets or livestock. They make large burrows that can disturb the soil and foundation, causing holes. Gopher holes are weak spots that cause people and animals to fall and injure themselves. All in all, pocket gophers, like rabbits, are considered pests by many communities, but there is much more to them than that. Let’s take a look at some of their interesting features!

What are Gophers?

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Gophers are rodents known for their pouch-like cheeks. They are seen as pests as they feast on vegetation and pose a threat to both farms and vegetable gardens. However, these short-haired brown animals are interesting, and there is much to learn about them. They are designed to burrow with ease. Gophers use their sensitive features to help navigate through their elaborate tunnels that can measure up to an impressive measurement of 2000 square feet. That’s deep!

There are there different kinds of pocket Gophers, which are:

Eastern Pocket Gopher

These gophers range from around 7 to 14 inches and vary in shades of brown to brown-black. They have two deep lines engraved in their incisor teeth, which helps identify this species. Another noticeable feature of their gophers are their big forefeet with claws to match.

Pappogeomys 

These gophers are often dual-toned in color, which ranges from a yellowish hue to a redfish one. They also have large forefeet and claws but are only 5 to 7 1⁄2 inches long. Unlike their cousins, Pappogeomys only have one line on their incisors and a light tan or white underbelly.

Western Pocket Gopher

These Western hemisphere dwelling gophers come in different sizes depending on their regions and can range from 5 to 13½ inches long. They also have a wide variation in color, being either a whitish shade, black, or brown. 

Interesting Features of Gophers

Pocket gophers get their name from the pouches that they have; their cheeks can expand and even be flipped inside out when they are full. They collect and store food in these pocket-like cheeks. They are medium-sized and belong to the rodent family; their fur comes in many different shades, and they have short hair that is quite fluffy. Their tails, however, have little hair compared to the rest of their bodies. 

This is because their tails have a very important role in guiding them through tunnels. Their tails are small but sensitive and can indicate to them if there is anything behind them as they back out of the intricate network of burrows they build. Gophers have strong and bulky forearms with claws that are specially built to help them be efficient diggers. Their eyes, ears, and nose are small to decrease the likelihood of sand and dirt getting caught up in them, but they do use these features as they are great tools to help them stay safe under and above the ground. 

6 Facts About Gophers You Should Know

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1. They Prefer to Be Alone

Although they may overlap and end up sharing a tunnel or two, pocket gophers are solitary animals. Unless there’s a territory clash of burrows, which is often solved with some ingenuity, gophers tend not to mingle with others of their own kind. 

2. Insects Over Other Gophers

Pocket gophers may enjoy some alone time from other gophers. They do, however, have tunnel-mates. There are a few insects that share gopher burrows and scientists are still studying this interesting underground friendship.

3. They are Banned in Some Places

Gophers are very headstrong and destructive diggers. They will do what they need to to make sure their burrows are how they intend. Because of their pest-like qualities, they are banned in a few places, the most well-known being New Zealand

4. They’re Tricky to Catch

As mentioned, these little diggers can be headstrong, which also helps with their defense. They make it so much work to get them that predators often give up. A common strategy they use is swiftly retreating into their burrow and making a plug out of the dirt to block out any potential threat. Cool, right?

5. Ecosystem Engineers

Gophers are known for destroying gardens and farms with their mound networks and food habits, but in some ways, they can be good for the ecosystem. Because gophers turn up and mix the soil, the vegetation can get nutrients. I guess it’s how you look at it!

6. Specialized Mouths for Digging

Sometimes, gophers use their flattish head and face as shovels! Now, this sounds quite hazardous, but these animals are built for digging, also called Fossorial (efficiently designed digging). Their lips can fold, which allows them to dig with their large teeth while no debris and sand enter their mouth. 

Conclusion

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Pocket gophers are very interesting medium-sized rodents. Many consider them pests, but they also help the ecosystem in many ways. They have a long history of being trapped for their tails and, to this day, are still eliminated for the same reasons. These impressive, almost hairless tails are a vital part of gophers, as they are sensitive and help them navigate their burrows.