Difference Between Gopher and Groundhog

Gopher vs Groundhog

Gopher and groundhog are two different animals in the same taxonomic order. They differ from each other in many aspects including body size and some other characteristics. However, it would not be too convenient to identify them correctly if their characteristics are not familiar. This article discusses the most useful facts about both gophers and groundhog and presents a comparison to make sense about the differences between them.


Gophers are rodents of the Family: Geomyidae. The pocket gophers are the true gophers, but some other rodent species viz. ground squirrels and prairie dogs are also called gophers. However, the term gopher refers to many species even if only the true gophers are considered, as there are 36 pocket gopher species described under six genera. In addition, there are a number of subspecies of them, which has increased their diversity, despite being only one taxonomic group among thousands. They are small but well-built animals weighing less than one kilogram mostly. Males are larger than females in all the species of gophers. It is interesting to know that the colour of their coat always resembles with the colour of the soil in the environment that they live. The squirrel-like body is 12 – 30 centimetres in length. They have one of the most characteristic large cheek pouches, which could be turned inside out sometimes. Their tails are furry, which is helpful for them to guide themselves while moving backwards through burrows. These ground dwellers have been a nuisance for the agriculture lands. They can even uproot a large tree by unearthing the soil around roots. During food abundant times, they store food in hoards of their burrows by carrying inside their pouches. Gophers are usually solitary animals except during the breeding season, and every individual has a defined territory. It is interesting to notice that when there is a female territory next to a male, they share the tunnel systems between each other.


Groundhog, Marmotamonax, is a terrestrial mammal of the Order: Rodentia and Family: Sciuridae. They range from Alaska through whole Canada towards Atlanta and other Central and Eastern States of the United States. Groundhogs are the largest sciurid of North America with a weight around 2 – 4 kilograms and have a body length measuring more than half a metre. They have short forelimbs with thick and curved claws, which are strong and useful to dig burrows those are their homes. They have proven their excellent ability to make burrows, as an average burrow could be about 14 metres long under 1.5 metres under the ground level. These tunnels are sometimes a threat to tall buildings and agricultural lands. They are mostly herbivorous, but sometimes feed on insects and other small animals according to the availability. Their short tail is believed to be an advantage for their lifestyle in the temperate climates. Their undercoat and outer coat with banded guard hairs provide them warmth during the colder season. Groundhogs are one of the species showing true hibernation during winter. They could live around six years in wild, but predator threats have taken the number down to two or three years. However, groundhogs live up to 14 years in captivity.


What is the difference between Gopher and Groundhog?

• Groundhog is one particular species of the Family: Sciuridae, whereas there are 36 species of true gophers in the Family: Geomyidae.

• Groundhog is many times larger than any gopher species. Accordingly, the size of the burrows is larger in groundhogs than in gophers.

• Groundhogs can live longer than the gophers.

• In winter, the true hibernation is observed in groundhogs but not in gophers.

• Gophers store food to use in the winter or other food scarce times, but not the groundhogs.