Gopher vs Mole: Similarities & Differences

Is it mole or gopher

It takes a lot of effort and time to maintain a beautiful garden. After putting in so much hard work, if pests destroy your garden, it will break your heart.

Moles and gophers are some of the pests that you could have in your soil that will silently kill your plants.

They are difficult to spot as they live underground which makes them even difficult to get rid of.

If you think you might have a gopher or a mole living in your soil this article will help you. Below, we will tell you all the differences between gophers and moles which will help you identify them, and how to get rid of them once and for all. 

Differences between Gophers and Moles

What Do Gophers Look Like?

Pocket gophers, commonly known as gophers are burrowing rodents which live underground. They are small creatures, just 15-20m in length.

You can probably recognize them by their brown fur that matches the color of the soil.

What Do Gophers Look Like

The word “pocket” in their name comes from their characteristic feature of large cheek pockets that extends from the side of the mouth to their shoulders.

They rely mainly on their sense of touch as they have small eyes and ears. Their long tail aids in their sense of touch. 

What Do Moles Look Like?

Moles are small ground-dwelling mammals.

They have a cylindrical body shaped like a potato and covered with velvety grey fur.

Their distinguishing feature, which will help you recognize them better, is the presence of a hairless, pointy snout.

They have tiny eyes that are covered by fur and no external ears.

They have large and broad forelimbs with webbed toes. This helps them in digging the soil while moving forward. It is said that moles swim underground because of the way they move in soil. 

Physical Differences between Gophers and Moles

Gophers can be identified by the pockets in their mouths and moles can be recognized by their pointed, elongated snout.

While gophers are small and resemble a rat in shape, moles are cylindrical with a long body.

Moles also have large webbed foot and have a distinctive movement in soil that makes them easier to recognize. 

Differences in Behavior of Gophers and Moles

Gophers are solitary creatures.

Their tunnelling is extensive and covers a large area. Only when they are mating, will two gophers be present in one burrow. 

Gophers are very active, and your entire problem could be caused by only one gopher. However, their density could be quite high too if they have enough food. 

They are active all year round and all times of the day. Though they will be hard to spot as they mostly stay under the surface

Moles also live alone, only socializing when they reproduce. 

Moles have their own burrow systems. Just like gophers, their burrows are extensive and they don’t tend to share it with others. Although it can be interconnected to other burrows.

They are very active creatures, digging all day and all year round. It will die of starvation if it doesn’t eat every few hours. However, their activity reduces in extreme heat or cold. They are most active after rain when the soil is moist and soft making it optimum for digging. 

They rarely come up to the surface and if they do it is to look for nesting materials, that too only in the nighttime. 

Differences in Diet of Gophers and Moles

Gophers are vegetarians. They only eat vegetation present in the soil. They mostly eat roots and tubers. Alfalfa, dandelions, juicy vegetables like carrot and radish are their favorite. 

Moles, on the other hand, eat insects and earthworms. Because of their high energy requirement, they have a large appetite. Earthworms and white grubs are their preferred food, but they eat anything like an insect, snail larvae, spider etc.

Mole Mounds vs. Gopher Mounds

Moles and gophers often leave mounds of soil in the process of digging. The type of mound they leave also becomes an identifying feature for them. 

A gopher burrow system is 4-18 inches below the surface with lateral burrows that connects them to the surface. Lateral burrows end with mounds on the surface.

Gopher mounds can be more often seen during spring and fall season when gophers are most active. Gopher holes are semi-circular in shape, like a horseshoe.

The burrows are invisible, and you can only make out gopher activity by the presence of mounds.

A good indicator of gopher activity is the opening of the gopher holes. If a hole is plugged with fluffy, fresh dirt, it means that a gopher is inside and active. Otherwise, the burrow has likely been vacated.

Mole mounds, on the other hand, are round with the burrow entrance at the centre. They are described as miniature volcanoes. Their cone-shaped mounds are about 2 inches in diameter.

Their tunnels are clearly visible as they move. They leave the ground soft and mushy.

Mole holes or mounds are often known as molehills. Unlike gophers, moles create very few mounds.  

Do I Have Moles or Gophers?

Spotting a gopher or a mole is a difficult job as both of these creatures rarely come to

the surface. However, you can apply different methods to recognize a gopher or a mole.

Moles or Gophers

The most distinctive feature which helps in recognizing whether it’s a mole or a gopher in your yard is that gophers will damage your crops while moles will damage your land. If you find withered plants with damages roots, the problem is most likely gophers. But if you find tunnels lines everywhere in your garden, you have moles. 

You can also recognize the creature by the type of mounds they leave on the surface as explained above. 

How to Get Rid of Gophers

Some ways you can get rid of gophers and reduce the damage in your yard are:

  • You can set up traps and baits for the gopher. Traps for gophers are easily available in the market. After a gopher is trapped, you should release it far away from your house, so it doesn’t make its way back.
  • Wire barriers around the plants can also be used to prevent the entry of gophers. 
  • You can use insecticides and chemicals made to get rid of rodents. This will effetely kill any gophers present in your soil. Although be careful with this method as these chemicals can also harm your plants.
  • One natural method is keeping pets like dogs and cats that will chase gophers away. 
  • Gophers hate some plants like daffodils, geranium, iris, thyme, lavender, and sage. You could line your garden with these plants to prevent gophers.
  • You can use water to flood their burrows. This will either kill them in their burrow itself or cause them to vacate the burrow.
  • You can also fumigate their borrows. 

How to Get Rid of Moles 

Some ways you can get rid of moles:

  • Place traps when you spot mounds in your yard. 
  • Set barriers like wire mesh to prevent their entry and access to the soil.
  • Natural castor oil repellents are recommended to get rid of moles. They cannot stand castor oil.
  • Sonic devices are available in the market which emits a penetrating sonic pulse that will chase away not only moles but any rodents in your soil. 
  • As moles live on insets and earthworms, you can use insecticides to get rid of these insects which will prevent mole infestation. 
  • Pets like cats and dogs can help in chasing away moles.
  • Moles dislike the smell from plants like daffodils, marigold and anything from the allium family. Planting these is a good natural way of getting rid of moles.

Final Words 

Gophers and moles are good creatures for the soil. They aerate the soil and allow new life to emerge.

However, they can become a pest when they are in your garden or farm. They can cause significant damage to your plants. Hence, it becomes very important to timely get rid of them.

But we understand that underground animals are not that easy to get rid of. So, we hope this article helped you in figuring out how to successfully spot and identify a gopher and a mole and how to get rid of them.

We hope this 2020 your garden is beautiful and thrives mole and gopher free!

Dinesh Kumar
Hello, I'm Dinesh. I have 4 years of experience in dealing with pests. I try to provide you the best information that'll help you to make the pest control process easy & affordable. In recent years, I've helped hundreds of homeowners to protect their home from pests like bed bugs, cockroaches, fleas, house flies, snakes, rats and other pests.

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