The pocket gopher, or just gopher, is a fossorial rodent that lives in various environments in North America. The squirrel-like animal from the Geomyidae family is known for its non-stop digging and extensive tunnel networks in habitats with soft, moist soil.
The gopher is indeed a busy body. It’s a highly energetic creature and it seems like the rodent is always doing something—mostly inside its tunnels.
Now you may ask: How’s the gopher’s social behavior?
Are pocket gophers social animals? Do these rodents group together and create a colony in which every member contributes to their daily tasks? Do they have synergistic relationships with other animals? Well, not really..
Join Floofmania in discovering the answers to all these questions and more. Let’s get into the under-the-ground details about the gophers’ social behavior that makes them look like quite a snub.
Are Pocket Gophers Social Creatures?
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There are at least 34 known species of pocket gophers, yet none are candidates to receive the “congeniality award”. Gophers are known to be solitary creatures—to their own kind, at least.
Every individual gopher prefers to live alone. It is highly territorial and will aggressively protect its turf against other gophers of the same sex. There have been reports of gophers fighting each other until one gets severely injured or the dispute ends with fatality!
Pocket gophers are said to be shy and timid but when it comes to protecting their territory from intruding gophers, they will not back off from a fight.
Do Gophers Live Together?
Multiple gophers may share their tunnels and nesting chambers—but not on purpose. This only happens if their territories overlap with each other. These animals’ concern is just digging and building tunnels.
Boundaries don’t matter to them as long as the other gopher belongs to the opposite sex. Male gophers are extremely aggressive towards each other. Interactions between opposite sexes show a little bit of tolerance thus the overlapping of boundaries.
Multiple gophers can be seen in an area where one may think that there’s a gopher colony living in it. But in fact, each gopher is living on its own and as much as possible, stays away from other gophers despite their close proximity.
Gophers’ Social Behavior During The Mating Season
When the pocket gopher’s breeding season arrives at the end of winter, these cutesy rodents will begin looking for pairs to mate with and temporarily share their burrows with.
When the mating season begins, the female gopher will invite the male to her burrow to mate. After their romantic moments, the male gopher will leave the burrow and never come back—what a douche. The female will stay in her burrow and raise her offspring alone.
A gopher litter consists of at least 4-5 pups. They will stay inside the nesting chamber where they solely depend on their mother for their survival. When the pups reach six weeks old, the weaning period starts. Their mom will now kick them out of her home to live on their own.
It seems like gophers don’t really enjoy each other’s company, right? But when it comes to socializing with other animals, you’ll surely be surprised how gophers treat other animals… Read on.
How Many Gophers Live In A Burrow?
A single gopher usually occupies a vast network of burrows by its lonesome. The burrow owner only allows another gopher of the opposite sex inside its home during the mating season. The gopher breeding season happens during late winter and early spring. Read more about this not-so-romantic story below.
If there’s an animal that prefers to live alone and doesn’t want any part in socialization and interaction with others, the top of the list is the gopher. If there’s an animal yard party in the wild, expect the gopher to be not there.
Fun facts: These cute gophers have great engineering skills but their social skills suck. Let’s move on.
Do Pocket Gophers Get Along With Other Animals?
It is a bit strange to imagine that gophers get along with other animals while being aggressive or indifferent toward their own kind. However, the truth to this matter is: the gopher does not get along or socialize with other animals.
Although, there are instances when the rodent sometimes allows other animals to live in their burrows with them. The gopher will share its home with other species of animals, including their predators—such as rattlesnakes and weasels. Gophers are such weird critters!
Here’s a list of animals that gophers allow to live with them in their burrows and tunnels:
- Ground squirrels
Perhaps the gopher is just confident in its escaping skills. The animal has poor eyesight and hearing and only relies upon its very sensitive sense of touch. Any movement in the gopher’s vicinity will immediately make the gopher react by doing two things:
- When there are predators like snakes are in a gopher’s burrow, it can avoid them by pushing soil toward the predator creating a barrier
- It will then immediately run to other parts of the burrow where the other animal cannot follow.
Are Pocket Gophers Playful?
Gophers may look like a cute playful lot but the truth is they are timid and shy creatures. They avoid any interaction with other gophers unless it is absolutely necessary. These rodents spend 95% of their lives living underground—alone. All it wants to do is dig, dig, and dig.
Playfulness is not among the characteristics of gophers. Socializing is not in the gopher’s vocabulary. Gophers seldom interact with humans or other animals. If ever you encounter a pocket gopher, you’ll notice that it can easily be startled and will hurriedly run away from you.
When Do Gophers Meet?
As mentioned above, gophers prefer to live alone and will just interact with others during certain situations. Gophers will meet other members of their species only when:
- It’s time to mate.
- There’s a territorial dispute.
- By accidentally bumping into each other.
Author: Jomvie Reyes
Jomvie has been a writer for over 10 years and animals and wildlife are among his favorite topics. Learning and writing about the vast and diverse wildlife from all over the world, is more of a hobby than a job for him. Jomvie loves to watch and observe these remarkable species up close and personal.