11 Animals Like Gophers (How They’re Similar)

Last updated on December 26th, 2023 at 01:02 am

Examples of animals like gophers include mice, rats, beavers, squirrels, and chipmunks. These creatures, like gophers, play distinct roles in their ecosystems.

Gophers are solitary by nature, but interestingly, they sometimes share their burrows with fellow gophers. Their herbivorous diet consists mainly of roots, bark, and leaves.

Their elaborate tunnel systems lead them to trees and plants, where they harvest roots, bulbs, and nuts. What’s fascinating is their “larders” within the tunnels, storing a massive amount of food, often exceeding their weight.

Where do Gophers Found?

Spread across North America and Central America, gophers, classified under the order Rodentia, boast at least 35 distinct species, with 13 thriving in the United States.

The evolutionary saga of pocket gophers unfolds through fossils discovered in North America, dating back 33.7 to 28.5 million years, as per Encyclopedia Britannica.

These elusive creatures are commonly spotted in pastures, gardens, savannas, and forests. Preferring a solitary lifestyle, gophers make their homes underground, crafting extensive burrows that can cover up to 600 square meters.

How Big Are Gophers?

Larger than mice yet generally smaller than rats, gophers measure between 5 to 14 inches (12.7 to 35.5 centimeters) in length, weighing a few hundred grams—1 lb. or more. Certain Central American species can even reach nearly 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs.).

Noteworthy are their four large incisors that persistently grow throughout their lives. A unique ability to close their lips behind these incisors aids gophers in keeping dirt out while they tirelessly dig through the earth.

11 Animals Like Gophers

1. Pacas

Animals Like Gophers

Scientific Name (genus): Cuniculus

What’s Similar To Gophers: Pacas, akin to gophers, share a distant connection, diet, and biology, favoring less extensive underground burrows and producing an average of one litter of pups per year.

Found in South and Central America, pacas thrive in tropical climates, particularly rainforests and water forests.

As the sixth-largest rodents in the order Rodentia, they grow up to 30 inches in length and weigh around 30 pounds.

Living near the water, they craft deep burrows, approximately 10 feet deep, often concealed by leaves.

Resembling pigs, pacas feature long, stocky bodies, short slender legs, and are adorned in brown hues with distinctive white stripes on their sides.

2. Groundhogs

Animals Like Gophers

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Scientific Name (genus): Marmota monax

What’s Similar To Gophers: Similar to gophers, these creatures construct distinct chambers for nesting and waste disposal.

Commonly confused with gophers, groundhogs are marmots inhabiting North American lowland forests and open fields.

Growing to 16-27 inches and weighing up to 14 pounds, they are also known as woodchucks or whistle pigs.

With round, fur-covered bodies and distinct incisors, groundhogs dig 3-foot-deep, 24-foot-long burrows in fields and socialize, in stark contrast to the solitary gopher, sharing tasks and creating separate burrows for winter hibernation.

3. Prairie Dogs

Animals Like Gophers

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Scientific Name (genus): Cynomys

What’s Similar To Gophers: In appearance, they closely resemble gophers, typically sporting a uniform coat of brown fur, though some exhibit black tails.

Inhabiting the region east of the Rocky Mountains, prairie dogs thrive in the arid, flat landscapes of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Like gophers, they construct intricate underground tunnels, with passages spanning 16 to 33 feet and separate chambers, showcasing similarities in their subterranean architecture.

In stark contrast to the solitary gopher, prairie dogs are highly social, forming large family groups covering expansive areas, each led by a single fertile male and up to four fertile females.

4. Tuco-tucos

Animals Like Gophers

Scientific Name (genus): Ctenomyus

What’s Similar To Gophers: Tuco-tucos closely resemble gophers, occupying the identical ecological niche as their North American counterparts.

Tuco-tucos, often termed pocket gophers for their uncanny resemblance to North American gophers, inhabit Bolivia, Paraguay, and Argentina at 250-meter altitudes.

Measuring around 15 inches from head to tail, they feature light brown fur with a distinctive black stripe along their spine. With 60 South American species, they share gophers’ burrowing habits, storing vegetation in cheek pouches.

Despite their similarities, tuco-tucos, belonging to a different taxonomic genus, have a shorter lifespan, typically not exceeding three years.

5. Porcupines

Animals Like Gophers

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Scientific Name (infraorder): Hystricognathi

What’s Similar To Gophers: Porcupines, akin to gophers, share a resemblance but are adorned with long quills. As herbivores thrive on green plants, they, too, adopt a solitary lifestyle like gophers.

Porcupines, diverse creatures in the Hystricidae and Erethizontidae families, span Europe, Africa, and North America.

While old-world porcupines (Hystricidae) reside in Europe and Africa, new-world porcupines (Erethizontidae) in North America boast round bodies adorned with sharp quills.

Despite superficial relations, both groups share dietary habits with gophers, employing quills as a defense mechanism. Unlike gophers, porcupines dig smaller burrows, opting for natural caves and hollow logs.

With a longer lifespan averaging 27 years, porcupines present an intriguing contrast to gophers in their habitats and longevity.

6. Lemmings

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Scientific Name (subfamily): Arvicolinae

What’s Similar To Gophers: Much like gophers, they sport short legs and furry coats and share a penchant for constructing intricate tunnel systems with separate chambers for food storage, living, and waste.

Lemmings, small brown and black rodents in Arctic regions, measure five to seven inches with specialized claws for snow digging.

During autumn and winter, they craft snow tunnels with nests, migrating to forests in spring, and feeding on grass, berries, and plants.

Despite the myth of “suicide marches,” lemmings do not intentionally jump off cliffs. When threatened, they showcase aggressive displays, unlike gophers whose primary defense is retreating to hiding spots.

7. Beavers

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Scientific Name (genus): Castor

What’s Similar To Gophers: These sizable rodents resemble gophers but are larger and boast distinctly different tails.

Preferring temperate climates, beavers are widespread across the Northern Hemisphere, ranking as the second-largest in the Rodentia order.

With robust, oily coats, typically 3-4 feet long and weighing between 24 and 66 pounds in adulthood, beavers share basic traits with gophers.

Semi-aquatic in nature, they adapt with webbed hind feet, a distinctive flat tail, and coats designed for warmth and buoyancy.

Known for building lodges with scavenged tree limbs, beavers showcase their excellent swimming abilities, capable of holding their breath underwater for up to 15 minutes.

8. Capybaras

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Scientific Name (genus): Hydrochoerus

What’s Similar To Gophers: Capybaras resemble very large, long-legged gophers with extended tails.

Capybaras, the largest mammals in the Rodentia order, reach lengths of three to four feet and stand two feet tall, with adults weighing up to 140 pounds.

Distinguished by their large size and possessing webbed feet due to their semi-aquatic nature, capybaras, native to South America, inhabit areas near rivers, streams, and ponds.

Unlike gophers, they are not subterranean but live above ground in forests, flooded savannas, and rainforests, showcasing highly social behavior in groups of 10 or more. Despite similarities to baby rats, the toed feet of young capybaras reveal a remarkable difference.

9. Chinchillas

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Scientific Name (genus): Chinchilla

What’s Similar To Gophers: chinchillas share numerous physical features with gophers and, like their subterranean counterparts, prefer spending their days in dens.

Chinchillas, originating from the Andes Mountains and now mainly bred in captivity, have wild herds limited to Brazil.

Recognized for their lush fur, they measure around 12 inches, weigh an average of one pound, and exhibit various colors.

Unique in hair growth, they produce about 60 hairs per follicle. With distinctive features like long tails, loose skin, and a neck ruff, they form herds of up to 100 members, adapting to food and space availability.

Chinchillas consume grass, plants, seeds, and occasionally small insects, residing in rock crevices instead of burrows. Popular as pets, they boast a potential lifespan of up to 20 years.

10. Gundis

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Scientific Name (family): Ctenodactylidae

What’s Similar To Gophers: Gundis resembles a blend of a chinchilla and a gopher but are notably more social and better adapted to desert environments.

Gundis, also known as Comb Rats due to dense hind feet bristles, inhabit the northern regions of Africa within desert environments.

Opportunistic den makers, gundis capitalize on natural rock outcroppings and cliffs. Adults measure around six inches in length, cloaked in thick fur.

Unlike gophers, gundis, part of a large social group that can exceed a hundred, refrain from aggressive defense mechanisms, instead opting to play dead.

Adapted to arid conditions, they abstain from drinking water, sourcing their hydration directly from the plants they consume—similar to the gopher’s diet of roots, bulbs, and soft plant matter.

11. Hutias

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Scientific Name (subfamily): Capromyinae (Subfamily)

What’s Similar To Gophers: Hutia resembles long-tailed gophers, sharing a comparable size and fur.

Hutias, medium-sized rodents native to the Caribbean Islands, weigh approximately six pounds and measure one foot long, with some species reaching up to 16 pounds.

Dubbed Banana Rats due to their droppings’ shape, they are considered a food source in Cuba. Sharing a long, hairless tail characteristic with gophers, hutias stand out with their prehensile tails.

While their diet primarily comprises plant roots and tubers, some species incorporate small animals.

Despite possessing large claws, hutias refrain from burrowing like gophers. Instead, they are terrestrial creatures spending the majority of their time in trees, nesting in limbs, hollow trunks, and roots, or in rock crevices.

12. Voles

Scientific Name (subfamily): Arvicolinae

What’s Similar To Gophers: Voles, tiny rodents renowned for their burrowing habits, share dietary preferences and social tendencies with gophers.

In the United States, voles are commonly known as field mice, measuring between three and nine inches with 155 species worldwide.

These small rodents, resembling hamsters, typically weigh only a few grams. With short lifespans of three to six months, they mature within a month of birth, adapting to various environments.

Similar to gophers, voles dig tunnels for food storage and nesting, earning them a shared reputation as garden pests due to their overlapping diets

. One distinguishing factor is their hamster-like appearance, crafting smaller tunnels with entrances merely about an inch wide.

13. Pacaranas

Scientific Name: Dinomys branickii

What’s Similar To Gophers: Pacaranas resemble spotted gophers, featuring silvery ruffs and large, rounded bodies.

The Tupi natives of South America dub pacaranas “false paca” due to their striking resemblance to pacas, although they differ taxonomically. Belonging to the monotypic taxon family Dinomyidae, pacaranas are the last surviving members of a giant rodent genus, smaller than capybaras at 30 pounds and two and a half feet in length.

Inhabiting the western Amazon Basin to Venezuela, Colombia, and Bolivia, they favor grasslands and tropical forests.

Similar to gophers, pacaranas sit on their hind legs, hold food in their front paws, and communicate with high-pitched noises and teeth grinding. Unlike subterranean gophers, pacaranas dig dens at tree and rock bases, residing in sedentary family groups of four to five members.

Conclusion

Several animals resemble gophers, with common examples being groundhogs, prairie dogs, and Tuco-tucos. While they may share some similarities in appearance, each of these animals has its unique characteristics and habits. However, keeping them as pets is often restricted, as they are considered pests in many areas. Even if you find them cute, it’s usually better to leave them alone.

As members of the rodent family, they also share remarkable similarities with various other animals. The 13 species on this list significantly resemble gophers, although many live above ground rather than below.

FAQs

1. What other animals look like gophers?

Groundhogs, prairie dogs, and Tuco-tucos are some animals that share similarities in appearance with gophers.

2. What animals look like giant gophers?

Capybaras, with their large size and semi-aquatic habits, share some similarities with gophers.

3. What animals are similar to woodchucks?

Groundhogs are commonly known as woodchucks, and animals like marmots share similarities in appearance and behavior with them.

4. What animals are similar to gophers and squirrels?

Groundhogs, prairie dogs, and Tuco-tucos are animals that share similarities with both gophers and squirrels, exhibiting comparable traits in appearance and behavior.

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