Taken from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABotta's_pocket_gopher.jpg. Photo of a pocket gopher leaving its burrow.


Primarily found in the American Southwest and the Baja, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sinaloa, and Sonora regions of Mexico (Jones and Baxter 2004), this mammal prefers to make its home in the plains (Daly and Patton 1990). However, they have also been found in a variety of other habitats, such as woodlands, shrublands, and agricultural fields (Jones and Baxter 2004). In fact, the only places they do not live either have too much water, such as near rivers, or do not have enough water, like desserts or rocky terrains (Jones and Baxter 2004). These little guys have even been found at elevations of up to 14,000ft (Jones and Baxter 2004)! Due to this huge distribution, it is hard to draw a definite line for habitation (Jones and Baxter 2004). Only certain subspecies have been observed in very specific habitats (Jones and Baxter 2004).

Being mainly fossorial, they spend nearly 90% of their time underground in the burrows they construct, which allow them to retreat quickly into the ground when threatened (The Mammals of Texas 2014). At the surface, these burrows look like a slightly open hole in the ground with a “fan shaped” mound of dirt behind them where excavation materials get deposited (Jones and Baxter 2004). However, underground they are much more intricate. These burrows have been known to be highly complex, with multiple chambers and corridors (The Mammals of Texas 2014). These tunnels, ranging between 30m and 150m in length, are usually just 6cm beneath the surface with birthing chambers much lower at about 60cm (The Mammals of Texas 2014). This birthing chamber is only added on during the mating season when two gophers will share the tunnel (The Mammals of Texas 2014). Normally, the tunnels are only inhabited by one gopher (The Mammals of Texas 2014). These one-gopher tunnels usually only consist of feeding tunnels that run parallel to the surface and side-corridors to store food (especially during the winter or dry conditions), and others that serve are garbage reservoirs and bathrooms (The Mammals of Texas 2014). They also consist of a nest (like their bed) in a separate sleeping room that is usually off of the main room or corridor 30cm to 70cm beneath the surface (The Mammals of Texas 2014). This nest is made up of dried and shredded vegetation that is rolled and compacted into a ball (The Mammals of Texas 2014). Both males and females will make these special sleeping quarters (The Mammals of Texas 2014). In winter months, they will extend these tunnels above ground under the snow (The Mammals of Texas 2014). This both extends their foraging range and protects them from predators like the Western Screech owls and Red-Tailed hawks (The Mammals of Texas 2014).

In most areas, the pocket gophers live in grassy fields, which can sometimes be taken over with plants like Invasive Cheatgrass (Animal Diversity Web: Thomomys bottae 2014). They can share their habitats with animals like the California Meadow Vole and Dusty Footed Woodrat. However, these animals, especially the pocket gophers are not always welcome. They have been blamed for damaging many grasslands, which has turned them into a bit of an ecological problem in some places (Animal Diversity Web: Thomomys bottae 2014). They have also been noted for tearing up and overgrazing farm fields, especially alfalfa fields and pastures (Animal Diversity Web: Thomomys bottae 2014). On the plus side, their holes have been praised (especially in wild habitats) for churning up the earth, which both airates the soil and brings in new nutrients (Animal Diversity Web: Thomomys bottae 2014). Their holes also allow for snow runoff to soak into the earth, which prevents erosion (Animal Diversity Web: Thomomys bottae 2014).

Taken from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AInvasive_cheatgrass_(8597688067).jpg. Photo of a field that has been taken over by Invasive Cheatgrass.
This is a photo of Invasive Cheatgrass

Taken from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AThomomys_bottae_distribution_map.svg. Map of the distribution of Thomomys bottae.
This is a map of Thomomy bottae's distribution.

Taken from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AWestern_Screech_Owl.jpg. Photo of a Western Screech Owl sitting in a field.
A photo of a Western Screech owl.

Taken from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ARed-tailed_Hawk_(7235500484).jpg. Photo of a Red-Tailed Hawk sitting in the tree canopy.
A photo of a Red-Tailed hawk.

Taken from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ACalifornia_Vole_(Microtus_californicus).jpg. Photo of a California Meadow Vole in a sandy field eating a plant.
A photo of a California Meadow Vole.

Taken from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ANeotoma_fuscipes.jpg. Photo of a Dusty Footed Woodrat climbing on a tree branch.
A photo of a Dusty Footed Woodrat.