Gophers Vs. Groundhogs: Yard Pests Explained

Now that your yard is lush and green again, certain visitors might come to feast on your grass and other plants. But for those who take pride in their garden, these furry pests won’t be a welcoming sight. Before you can take action, it’s important to know who is actually responsible for eating all your greenery and digging up holes. In today’s post, we’ll be talking about the main differences between two similar-looking animals: gophers and groundhogs. After reading this post, you should be able to determine whether you’ll need to contact gopher services to get rid of gophers or whether groundhogs are the true bane of your existence.

It’s easy to confuse a gopher for a groundhog (particularly when groundhogs are young). Both are brown-ish in color, relatively furry, and like to dig holes in the ground. But the two species actually aren’t even related. Before you start making plans to remove gophers in your yard, make sure that what you’re seeing actually fits in with the following features.

All About Gophers


    • Class: The animals that gopher services are familiar with are rodents, of which there are 34 different species in the western hemisphere. In the U.S., 13 different species of gophers can be found. These animals belong to the suborder known as Castorimorpha and the family of Geomyoidae. They’re related to pocket mice, kangaroo rats, and kangaroo mice. The pocket gopher is the most well-known type of gopher in these parts.


    • Appearance: If you’re thinking of contacting the experts for gopher trapping, taking a close look at the creature in question might give you a good idea of what you’re dealing with. From far away, these two creatures might look alike. But when you take a closer look, their appearances differ quite a bit. Gophers are quite small, typically weighing only two pounds or so. They also have hairless tails, pink feet, and protruding teeth (usually of a yellow or brown shade). They also have cheek pockets — this is where pocket gophers get their name from! — in which they carry food.


  • Eating Habits: Gophers will eat just about anything they can find in your garden (hence why so many homeowners have a need for gopher trapping!), but they especially love roots and tubers. This might explain why plants you’ve recently put in aren’t thriving the way you hoped. And because gophers can often stay underground to munch, burrowing and digging along their buffet route, it’s relatively rare to spot a gopher out on the surface of your lawn.

Now that you’re a bit more familiar with these creatures, you’ll be able to determine when to place a call to your local company that specializes in gopher services. But what makes these animals different from groundhogs (also known as woodchucks)?

All About Groundhogs


    • Class: You might have assumed groundhogs and gophers were at least related in some way. But actually, groundhogs are more closely related to squirrels, prairie dogs, and chipmunks than they are to gophers. Groundhogs belong to the marmot group, the Sciuromorpha order, and the Sciuridae family. They’re actually among the largest of the marmot group, which contains 15 different species total.


    • Appearance: As previously mentioned, groundhogs are quite a bit bigger than gophers, weighing in at around 13 pounds on the higher end. They have white teeth and a short tail covered in thick fur. Their feet are dark brown or black. And you’ll often see groundhogs moving around on the ground’s surface with a characteristic waddle.


  • Eating Habits: Groundhogs hibernate in the winter, but you’ll see them foraging for food in the spring and summer. Unlike gophers, who keep lots of food in their burrows, groundhogs focus on fattening up during the warmer months. They tend to love fruits and vegetation, though they’ll eat roots as well. And while they can create holes, their eating habits often result in more damage to your trees than to the ground itself.

Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to discern whether you’re dealing with yard damage from gophers or some other creature entirely. For more information on our gopher services, please contact us today.