Gateway Gazette

Not an Anthill, But a Pocket Gopher Hill!

So you’ve found a small mound of dirt, but there’s not an ant in sight… so what animal is making these dirt piles? Well it just might be the pocket gopher! 
Pocket GopherPocket gophers (Geomys bursarius) are very common critters out here at the park and all over the Alberta grasslands. They are vegetarians and they love to eat the roots of plants, and sometimes even above ground plants. These gophers are often mistaken for moles, but are easily distinguished by their teeth; the pocket gopher has very visible protruding teeth and the mole does not. In fact, gophers can close their lips behind their teeth to prevent any dirt from getting into their mouth as they dig. They often use these teeth to loosen soil before moving it away with their claws. Now before you curse these poor gophers and call their holes a nuisance, these gophers are an important part of the ecosystem and they help with soil aeration, fertilization and drainage.

(Information from National Wildlife Federation; Photo Cred. San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy)

To learn more about the animals we have at Glenbow Ranch, come on down for a variety of park programs throughout the summer.

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