Most of the species of rodents appear the same to us, and it is the same when it comes to Gophers and Groundhogs. Gophers and Groundhogs, often confused due to their burrowing habits and similar-sounding names, are two distinct species of burrowing rodents that play vital roles in their respective ecosystems. Despite the confusion that arises from their shared subterranean lifestyles, gophers and groundhogs have several key differences, from their appearance and habitats to their behavior and geographical distribution.
In this article, we will delve into these differences to shed light on the question: Are gophers and groundhogs the same? Let’s explore the fascinating world of these burrowing creatures and uncover the unique characteristics that set them apart.
Gophers vs Groundhogs
Gophers and Groundhogs seem to be similar, but these two rodents are completely different creatures. Although there are some things in common such as their appearance to some extent and their burrowing nature. But more than these, there are not many similarities, but the differences are several.
A major difference between them is that they are from different families. Gophers are from the Geomyidae whereas the Groundhogs belong to the Scuiridae family. Other rodents in the Geomyidae family are the kangaroo rats, pocket mice, and more. However, Scuiridae is a family of squirrels, chipmunks, prairie dogs, and so on.
Another huge difference between them is the size. Gophers and Groundhogs differ hugely in terms of size. The former is of rather small size and weigh about 1 pound and the latter is larger and usually weigh more than 10 pounds.
They might look similar, but Groundhogs and Gophers have a noticeable difference in appearance as well. Groundhogs boast a slender face with black or brown feet. On the other hand, Gophers have bigger cheek pockets where they store or keep food and their feet are pink in color. Also, Gopher’s tails do not have any hair, while the tails of Groundhog’s are furry and puffy.
Even in terms of habits such as hibernation and burrowing, Gophers and Groundhogs differ.
Groundhogs burrow into the ground for safety and hibernation only, and most of the time they live above the ground. But these rodents get in their burrows at the sight of danger and even when the temperature is too hot or too cold. Moreover, they hibernate during the cold winters as well. Whereas Gophers tend to live their whole life under the ground in their burrows.
There is also a huge difference in terms of the food they eat. Groundhogs prefer to eat vegetables and fruits, and gophers have a taste for roots and tubers. Moreover, Gophers store food and do not eat it immediately, and this is evident in their cheek pockets. Whereas, Groundhogs eat their food immediately as they find it.
In conclusion, the confusion surrounding gophers and groundhogs is not unfounded, as both species share a penchant for digging burrows beneath the earth’s surface. However, as we’ve discovered, they are far from being the same. Gophers and groundhogs differ in their appearances, behaviors, and habitats.