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Species Description

Southeastern Pocket Gopher

Geomys pinetis


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Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Geomyidae

Description

The body is covered in short hair, which is medium to dark brown on the upper parts and brownish gray on the belly. Total length is from 25.4 - 30.5 cm (10 - 12 in). The Southeastern Pocket Gopher has a thickset body, stout front legs with large claws, external fur-lined cheek pouches, and a hairless tail. The small eyes and ears are adaptations for a fossorial existence.

Life Cycle

Breeding occurs all year, with peaks in February and March and June through August, when adult males and females share the same burrow system. Otherwise the Pocket Gopher leads a solitary existence. Older females may produce 2 litters per year. After a gestation period of from 40 - 50 days, 1 - 3 young are born. At one month of age, the young are weaned and disperse to begin life on their own.

Natural History

The Southeastern Pocket Gopher searches for food by digging shallow burrows. Roots, tubers, stems, and other plant materials that are encountered are stored temporarily in cheek pouches. Once the pouches are full, the gopher empties their contents into chambers excavated especially for food storage. A gopher burrow system also contains chambers which are used as latrines and in the deepest part of the burrow, a grass-lined nest chamber. The Pocket Gopher is easily detected by the presence of numerous mounds of soil which have been excavated from the burrow system. The Southeastern Pocket Gopher is found in upland areas of dry, sandy soil or well drained, fine-grained gravely soils, where burrows can be easily dug. Predators of the Pocket Gopher include snakes, weasels, the bobcat, the coyote, hawks, and owls.

Range

Southeastern Pocket Gopher Region Map The Southeastern Pocket Gopher has a very limited distribution. It is found only on the Coastal Plains of Georgia, Alabama, and the northern half of Florida.

Conservation Status

This species can be common in some areas. It is considered to be a pest when it is found tunneling under golf courses, cemeteries, garden, and residential lawns.

Similar Species

No other member of the Pocket Gopher Family occurs in Georgia. Moles are also burrowers, but they can be distinguished from Pocket Gophers by their smaller size, tiny eyes, and the lack of large obvious gnawing teeth.