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Gophers, Groundhogs, and Moles: Which Pest Is in Your Yard?

Pest
Have animals been tunneling and creating burrows in your yard? You might assume you have gophers - or perhaps you suspect moles or groundhogs are to blame.
All three of these animals do tunnel below ground, and perhaps this is why they're often confused with one another. But gophers, groundhogs, and moles are quite different. They cause different types of damage and require different extermination techniques. Before you make any assumptions as to which of these animals is damaging your yard, review the following comparisons.
Gophers
Gophers, also known as pocket gophers, are about 8 inches long with 2-inch tails. They have brown fur, rounded faces, and blunt noses. Gophers somewhat resemble a smooth-haired guinea pig. They have exterior pockets on each side of their face, and they use these pockets to temporarily store food. 
Gophers use their teeth to dig through soil, creating burrows that may be more than 5 feet below ground. From tunnels closer to the surface, they feed on the roots of plants. This causes plants above the gopher tunnels to die, even though the above-ground portions of the plants show no sign of damage. 
Tunnels dug by gophers have a fan-shaped pile of soil near the opening. You may never see the gopher, as they spend most of their time below ground. Gophers typically live independently, which is good news if you suspect a gopher is burrowing on your land. You probably only have one pest to remove. Usually, the best way to get rid of a gopher is to trap it in its tunnel.
Groundhogs
Groundhogs are another furry, brown creature that lives below ground. However, they're not closely related to gophers and are much larger than gophers. Groundhogs are about the size of a cat, whereas gophers are the size of a squirrel. Like gophers, groundhogs are solitary animals, so you're unlikely to have more than one or two on your land at any time.
Groundhogs use their burrows differently from gophers, too. They spend the night sleeping in their burrow, and at night, they come out to eat. Groundhogs eat vegetation from above ground rather than feeding on the plants' roots. You're more likely to actually see a groundhog than a gopher since they spend more time above ground and tend to move quite slowly.
Groundhogs can damage your property in several ways. They may gnaw on tree trunks, damaging bark. Their burrows may also weaken a building's foundation if dug too close to the foundation. Thankfully, groundhogs can usually be trapped pretty easily when they are above ground searching for food.
Moles
The third burrowing mammal that may destroy your lawn is the mole. Moles look quite different from both groundhogs and gophers. They have pointy, hairless snouts, webbed feet, and tiny eyes. Moles are about 5 to 6 inches long; most have brown fur, but they can also be cream, gray, or even white in color.
Moles dig small, intricate tunnels about 1 foot below ground. In these tunnels, they feed on insects and worms - not on plant roots. The tunnel systems can be very extensive, and moles pass their tunnels down through generations. Outside the openings to tunnels, you may see a round mount of dirt. 
Of the three pests discussed in this article, moles cause the least harm since they do not feed on your plants. Unless their tunneling is ruining the appearance of your landscape, you usually don't need to eradicate moles.
You should now have a better idea of which furry pest is tunneling belowground in your yard. If you do suspect gophers or groundhogs are causing the damage, contact Cliffs Pest Control, Inc. Our technicians are experts in gopher and rodent removal.

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