Groundhog Vs Gopher! Distinguishing Facts About These Furry Rodents

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Mar 11, 2023 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Nov 16, 2021
Fact-checked by Shruti Thapa
Groundhog sitting on grass

Since the gopher and the groundhog are both little brown tunneling rodents, they are often mistaken for each other.

Gophers and groundhogs are two separate types of rodents, despite their resemblance. Gophers are substantially smaller than groundhogs, weighing around 13 lb (5.8 kg) and 2 lb (0.9 kg), each.

The term gopher represents a group of 35 rodent species that are classified into five genera. Gophers are members of the Castorimorpha suborder of the family Geomyidae, which includes pocket gophers, pocket mice, kangaroo mice, and kangaroo rats. The pocket gopher, a tiny fossorial creature, is the most common gopher of the family Geomyidae.

Groundhogs are members of the Marmota family, which includes 15 distinct species. Groundhogs are members of the Sciuromorpha order, which also contains squirrels, chipmunks, marmots, and prairie dogs.

Squirrels and rodents are animals that are distinguished by their two razor-sharp fangs, which they utilize to eat food and attack enemies. They consume just about everything, including seeds and plants; they also gnaw on timber, which is a source of nutrition for them.

The biggest relatives of these squirrels' group are groundhogs. The groundhog is commonly known as the woodchuck and has the scientific name of Marmota monax. The groundhog and gopher are two distinct creatures belonging to a similar taxonomic order.

They vary from one another in a variety of ways, notably body size as well as other traits. Nevertheless, if traits of the animal are unfamiliar, it will be difficult to recognize the animal appropriately.

The burrow of a groundhog or woodchuck is an annoyance with big heaps of earth at the openings that can be deadly. The burrows of a groundhog are enormous and feature several compartments, making them intrusive to your grass and gardens.

A groundhog will eat all you've planted, including your flowers. They eat only leaves, flowers, and grasses and are herbivores.

Carrots, beans, and peas are among their favorite gardening products. The groundhog will even scale trees to consume apples and pears.

A groundhog is slow at burrowing tunnels, so it will burrow one near your yard and use it as its very own eatery. Because of these reasons and the damage groundhogs can do to your garden, it is advisable not to have them digging burrows in your yard.

Fun fact: groundhogs also have burrows underground and love to hibernate. Gophers don't hibernate though.

Find this article interesting? Then make sure to read about the Alabama beach mouse and the wambenger here on Kidadl.

How do you distinguish them?

Apart from the scientific distinctions, there are several additional obvious variations between a groundhog and a gopher. Gophers, for instance, vary from groundhogs in that they have a smooth tail, have yellowish or reddish teeth that protrude from their mouth, and have fur-lined cheeks and cheek pouches for food storage.

A gopher's cheeks are actually one of this animal's most distinguishing features.

Groundhogs, on the other hand, have whiter teeth, and these are only seen if they open their mouth. A groundhog also has a much smaller tail, and it is usually very full of fur as well.

The groundhog possesses brown or black feet, but gophers have pink feet. Groundhogs, on the other hand, may develop to be approximately 13 lb (5.8 kg), whereas gophers only weigh a few pounds.

How do you get rid of them?

Groundhogs are adorable and cuddly; however, they are dangerous to both your garden and house. To keep these hairy and hole-digging enthusiasts off your ground, you can use organic bug spray, nets, fear tactics, gas capsules, or your rifle.

These will usually scare groundhogs back to their burrows. Next, take precautions to keep animals like the groundhog away by installing an in-ground fence.

To keep gophers away from your ground, you can use a diversity of organic repellents. Planting strong-smelling flora like sage, tulips, irises, thyme, and geraniums, as well as putting fish oil, peppermint oil, coffee grinds, or tabasco sauce on the ground nearby gopher burrows, will deter them.

What do they eat?

Groundhogs or marmots are rodent omnivores who eat a wide range of species of plants, such as those found in flower beds for food. Additionally, groundhogs spend time devouring insects such as grubs, other insects, and snails, which humans perceive to be pests. Even tiny creatures, like baby birds, have been recorded to be eaten by them as food.

Gophers are rodents that are herbivores, meaning they consume plants solely for food. Plant roots and tubers are their favorites, but gophers may sometimes graze the field for grass, clover, and other treats. Overall, gophers and groundhogs are animals who share a similar diet that mainly consists of plant species and roots.

What else looks like a groundhog?

Marmots, or Marmota monax, are members of the ground squirrels family, which includes groundhogs or woodchucks, rock or ground squirrels, and more than 10 other varieties. The marmot may be seen all throughout North America.

Prairie dogs, marmots, and even beavers are other species that are identical to groundhogs in terms of the appearance of their fur and how much they weigh. Additionally, as mentioned above, a gopher looks very similar to a groundhog as well, even though gophers are smaller, with the pocket gopher measuring between 6-8 in (15.2-20.3 cm).

Both the groundhog and the gopher are interesting animals, and even though they are often mistaken for each other, they are very different, with unique characteristics and behaviors of their own. Hearing and reading about gopher vs. groundhog facts can be quite fascinating because of the similarities and differences these animals share.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our article on the groundhog vs gopher, then take a look at common mole-rat or Malagasy giant rat.

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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Fact-checked by Shruti Thapa

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Shruti Thapa picture

Shruti ThapaBachelor of Arts specializing in English

With a passion for American, British, and children's literature, Shruti is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree at Garden City University, Bengaluru. Her fluency in Nepali, Hindi, and Mandarin demonstrates her linguistic abilities and global perspective. In addition to her literary pursuits, she has a keen interest in non-fiction literature, aesthetics, early childhood education, and Egyptian history. Shruti's research paper 'Bringing Art Illustrations In Education And Pop Culture' showcases her proficiency in these areas and her dedication to academic excellence.

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