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Gopher vs Mole: What's the Difference?

gopher vs mole

Gophers and moles are two animals that live in different habitats. These two critters are very different, but people often confuse them because they both live underground in burrows and use their claws to dig through the dirt.

They have a lot more similarities than differences, but one way they differ is in their diet.

In this article, we will discuss the difference between gopher vs mole, their diet, habitat, and lifestyle.

Comparing moles and gophers

Researchers classified the “true gophers” as those from the family Talpidae. The family comprises 51 species and three subfamilies with moles belonging to the subfamily Talpinae often assigned the moniker simply moles.

While shrew moles and humans deserve recognition their existence is not the subject of this study. It would have been better for them to refer to the European mole instead.

Here is a short summary of the differences between Moles, Shrewmoles, or desmans and moles. The European mole is the widely known European mole.

Mole vs Gopher: Tunnels

And while gophers and moles have underground tunnels in common their tunnels are different.

Moles often dig deep into deep underground tunnels that fall at about 6-7 meters below the sea surface.

Gopher nests could reach 6 feet while the other nests are typically up to 3- feet underground which has cone-shaped mounds.

Typically a range of 300-800 square feet of gopher warrens are spread out of the territory a mole may span up.

Surface tunnels are not typically found in gopher territories unless the gophers are invading the mole’s territory. They create raised ridges or surface tunnels that are 16 inches deep.

Because voles may use mole tunnels to access plant roots and bulbs, moles are frequently held accountable for such destruction.

When the gophers dig tunnels, they push dirt to the surface and out of their holes, thus creating a little mound on the ground each time they remove soil from their passageways.

Moles vs Gopher: Body

Moles have short, velvety fur that varies in color from brown to grey to golden. Despite their common appearance gophers are generally brown - their color varies according to the color of soils in which they are found.

They also possess large fur-lined cheeks that they used to remove dirt at the excavation sites. While hindlimbs appear small, hindlimbs allow them to dig 15 feet per hour.

Here they get their name "pocket gophers". Gophers have a sixth thumb which helps them to dig and use it for tunneling. Gophers can often also be described as "moles'.

Moles vs Gophers: Size

The average gopher is 6-8 inches long while the average mole is only about 4-7 inches long. Unlike gophers also tend to weigh heavier than moles.

The common gopher reaches between 0.5 and 1 pound. Moles weigh also fewer. It's normally just around 2-4.6 ounces or 0.25 pounds.

Average mole weights less than 2.5-4.5 inches and is usually 4-7 inches.

Mole vs Gophers: Geography

Of the two species, moles are more widespread. Their distribution covers all continents on Earth except South America and Antarctica.

The habitat for gophers is only North and Central America though. They live in similar environments but are more diverse in their range.

The appearance of tunnels is an indication of gopher activity. Both love wooded areas, forests, plains, and grasslands. Moles will also return home in sand dunes.

Moles vs Gophers: Taxonomy

Between them, there are only gophers in the Rodentia family. Meanwhile, moles and snakes bear more common shrews while gophers have similar traits as pocket mice and kangaroo rats.

Gophers are more common than moles and are more common in common mice and rats.

This meant moles and gophers were less prevalent in the wild as they are considered common rodents.

Mole vs Gopher: Diet

While moles are omnivores, gophers are herbivores. Moles primarily eat worms, insects, and worms.

Gophers' favorite foods consist of fruits and veggies. Gophers like to eat plant roots that are buried beneath the ground.

Moles are often charged with causing this damage since voles may use mole tunnels to reach plant roots and bulbs.

They enjoy a wide range of cultivated and wild plants. If you see wilting and dead plants, as well as crescent-shaped mounds, it's likely that you have a gopher in your garden.

Mole vs Gopher: Lifespan

Gophers tend to live in the wild for 1-2 years. Some studies suggest the specimen has lived five years. Moles however can live between three and six years long.

While subtle the differences are noticeable but may also change in conditions. In comparison to moles, Gophers grow longer whereas the moles last only as long.

Damage of Gophers vs Moles

Gophers may create 200 mounds in one year using their feet and claws to construct burrows. Moles have a longer surface than gopher tunnels.

Gophers have acquired a bad name for munching through lawns but also destroy underground utility cables, sprinkler systems, and irrigation systems.

Gophers cause more damage above ground rather than moles and roots damage typically goes undetected until plants start to wilt and wither.

The pests might attack other animals such as humans and cats and are prone to causing serious injuries with large, sharp teeth.

Both gophers and moles are continuing to damage yards if allowed to stay.

Gopher holes vs. mole holes gophers species may construct extensive burrow systems that function as an elaborate underground main tunnel system.

Call 24h Pest Pros pest control today and our exterminators will take care of those moles and gophers for you.

What does a gopher mound look like?

The mounds typically turn out crescent or horseshoe-shaped at higher elevations. The holes off one side of the area usually are plugged.

A mole will be rectangular with a plug in the middle that cannot be differentiated but is volcano-shaped in profile in the middle of it.

What damage do gophers and moles cause?

Gophers can damage the trees when they remain in the house. They can accumulate more than 200 dirt piles for a year.

Moles are rarely seen by human beings but they can go undetected until their tunneling activities become obvious.

There are over 12,000 known species of ants but only a handful are dangerous to your privacy.

Dobsonflies are no true flies and they are not true household flies. Learn about ants and their behavioral traits by observing various species of ants.

Final Thoughts on Moles & Gophers

Gopher moles differ significantly but the differences between them are large enough to enable easy identification.

The goal is similar to killing them but gophers could be fumigated while pesticide sprays could be carried in for the killing of the insect's food source.

Gophers are solitary creatures that create huge numbers of burrows that cause damaged but are primarily caused by the quality of their feeding habits.

When it comes to dealing with a mole or gopher infestation, homeowners should contact an expert.

Call our 24h Pest Pros pest control services on how to get rid of these pests.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do you distinguish mole mounds and gopher mounds?

Mole, unlike the gopher mound the remains in a round mass with no dip in its center. It may have an average diameter of about three feet or up to 4 feet.

It occurs when the moles push dirt toward the small runways at the end of the tunnel.

Do I have moles voles or gophers?

Moles will appear above the surface as rectangular oval-shaped mounds of dust whilst gophers are kidney-shaped.

Voles produce holes with no dirt surrounding the entrance area like most rodent holes and will also bend the grass into one shape tunnel.

How do I get rid of gophers or moles?

To prevent rabbits from building upon their habitat, repel them with their least favorite tonic water, which they call castor oil.

Naturally, offensive to moles and pocket gophers castor oil application best starts early spring, mid-summer, and early autumn.

About The Author:

Meet Mark Calhoun, a seasoned pest control expert in the realm our pest control company. With over 10 years of dedicated experience and Managing Editor. His primary mission is to furnish you with precise and invaluable DIY insights, ensuring your home remains pest-free while aiding you in distinguishing various household pests.
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