What kind of mole or gopher do I have?

Identify your mole or gopher by location and the type of damage they do. What do they look like and what do they eat?

 

Mounds: How to tell a mole mound from a gopher mound

moletrailsMole Trail

mole-mounds Mole Mounds

gopher-moundGopher Mound

gopher-moundsGopher Mound

Moles
Mole mound (or molehill):
Moles make a volcano- or cone-shaped mound.
The soil of the mole mound is finer than that of a gopher mound.
Moles rarely come out of their tunnels – they poke a hole in the ground and then push the dirt straight up. This is what creates the cone-shaped mound.

Mole tunnels
Moles eat just above the grass root level creating a trap door effect. As bugs and worms move through the loose soil, they fall into the tunnel system. The mole simply circles around the tunnel system and picks up food. Moles like yards that are well aerated because they will tend to have more insects.

Identification
Eyes – Do not see very well, mostly light/dark, they prefer and live in the dark.
Nose – Slender, narrow snout.
Ears – A very small hole in the skin, not visible, hearing is very accurate.
Teeth – Very small and needle like in shape.
Feet – Made for moving softer dirt, fore feet are twice the size of the rear feet.
Fur – Soft and is a Black Velvet Color. It grows perfectly straight up and will lay either direction.
Size – Average is 6” to 8” in Length.
Whiskers – Very Sensitive to vibration and help to guide the mole in its travel.
Front mole feet are designed to move dirt an average mole can dig up to 60’ per day.

Diet
Moles move dirt in search for food, such as worms, bugs and grub. Moles find their food by senses of touch and smell. A mole’s diet primarily consists of earthworms and other small invertebrates found in the soil and also a variety of nuts. Because their saliva contains a toxin that can paralyze earthworms, moles are able to store their still living prey for later consumption. Moles have a high metabolic rate and must consume massive amounts of worms to fill it. Although it may appear they are eating your plant and grass roots, that is not their mission. They are actually after worms and in the process inadvertently kill grass by separating the roots from the soil leaving it to dry out and die.

Life Cycle
Can have up to 2 litters per year of 6-10 pups each. Moles create a nesting chamber, which is approximately 3 to 7 inches in diameter and is lined with foliage. With a gestation period of approximately 45 days, their young are typically born in March or April. For homeowners, that means within four weeks of being born, moles can quickly be on the way to making your yard look like a zebra. Mole predators include dogs, cats, large fish, raccoons, minks, owls, hawks, foxes, skunks, and more.

Townsend Mole Image

TOWNSEND’S MOLE

Map of where Townsend's Moles Live
Eastern Mole Image

EASTERN MOLE

Map of where the Eastern Mole lives
Star Nosed Mole Image

STAR NOSED MOLE

Map of where the Star Nosed Mole lives
Coast Mole Image

COAST MOLE

Map of where the Coast Mole lives
Shrew Mole Image

SHREW MOLE

Map of where the Shrew Mole lives
Broad Footed Mole Image

BROAD FOOTED MOLE

Map of where the Broad Footed Mole lives
Hairy Tail Mole Image

HAIRY TAILED MOLE

Map of where the Hairy Tailed Mole lives

Gophers

Gopher Mound
Gophers make a horseshoe or heart-shaped mound of scattered dirt. The soil will be in bigger chunks than that of a mole mound.

Gopher Tunnels
Gophers tend to create tunnels in a straight line between a tunnel and good feeding locations, such as a garden or fresh trees or plants. Gophers push dirt out of their tunnel at a 45-degree angle and then turn around and kick it out with their back legs. Tunnels are usually deeper in sandy soils than in clay soils. Gophers seal the openings to the burrow system with earthen plugs. One gopher may create several mounds in a day or as many as 300 mounds per year. Mounds are crescent-shaped and appear at the end of short lateral tunnels.

Identification
Eyes – do not see well, but better than moles. Gophers will come out of the ground in search for food and move dirt. Their eyes are used to light.
Ears – Very Small and hearing is good.
Teeth – Very Large, can apply up to 18,000lb per sq. inch. Teeth grow very fast and their lips close behind the teeth.
Fur – Usually Brown in color with a white patch on the chest.
Size – 6” to 13 “ in length.
Whiskers – Very sensitive to vibration and help to guide the mole in its travel.
The gopher has a fur lined pouch outside of the mouth, one on each side of its face. These pockets are used for carrying food.

Diet
Gophers eat vegetation, such as plants, vegetables, and roots of trees. Gophers are herbivores. They feed on a wide variety of vegetation, including plants, shrubs, and trees. Most commonly they feed on roots and fleshy portions of plants they encounter while digging. Although sometimes seen feeding near an open burrow. Gophers can rapidly destroy yards and gardens feeding on many garden staples; plants, vines, shrubs, and trees. One gopher can cause major damage to a lawn and garden in a very short time. Gophers may also damage plastic water lines and other underground installations. Abandoned tunnels often divert water and this leads to soil erosion.

Life Cycle
They will come out of their tunnels at dusk or dawn in search for food, but will primarily stay underground. Gophers are widespread throughout much of the South, Midwest and Western United States. They are born diggers and create elaborate tunnel systems. Like moles gophers have powerful forequarters with large front paws. Oftentimes mistaken for chipmunks or woodchucks, gophers live in a burrow system that can exceed 2,500 square feet. Their fine fur allows them to move easily through any type of soil. They have a keen sense of smell and hearing which they use to locate food and avoid predators. They have small eyes and sensitive facial whiskers to assist their movements in the dark. Depending on species gophers vary in length from 7 to 12 inches. Gopher predators include snakes, owls, coyotes, weasels, badgers, bobcats and even herons.

Yellow Faced Pocket Gopher Image

YELLOW FACED POCKET GOPHER

Map of Where the Yellow Faced Pocket Gopher lives
Northern Pocket Gopher Image

NORTHERN POCKET GOPHER

Map of where the Northern Pocket Gopher lives
Southern Pocket Gopher Image

SOUTHERN POCKET GOPHER

Map of where the Southern Pocket Gopher lives
Desert Pocket Gopher Image

DESERT POCKET GOPHER

Map of where the Desert Pocket Gopher lives
Southeastern Pocket Gopher Image

SOUTHEASTERN POCKET GOPHER

Map of where the Southeastern Pocket Gopher lives
Botta's Pocket Gopher iMAGE

BOTTA’S POCKET GOPHER

Map of where the Botta's Pocket Gopher lives
Plains Pocket Gopher Image

PLAINS POCKET GOPHER

Map of where the Plains Pocket Gopher lives