Rodents are the largest group of mammals with over 4000 species. These small mammals can either be pests or pets. Gophers and groundhogs are among those considered pests or enemies of humans.
So, what is the difference between a gopher and a groundhog? A gopher belongs to the Geomyoidae family, and a groundhog belongs to the Sciuridae family. A gopher is also smaller and lighter, whereas a groundhog is large and heavier.
You can also use the lifestyle, habitat, appearance, and many other factors to tell their differences. Below is a comparison table that displays the main differences between a gopher and a groundhog.
Difference between Gopher and Groundhog with Table
|Definition||A gopher is a burrowing rodent with a fur-lined pouch on the outside of the cheeks.||A groundhog is a small mammal with short rough legs and red-brown fur.|
|Origin||Hails from North and Central America.||Native to the North America and United States.|
|Family||Belongs to the Geomyoidae.||Belongs to the Sciuridae.|
|Group||Has 35 species grouped into five genera.||Marmota monax|
|Appearance||Have fur-lined cheek pouches for storing food.||Have stocky physique and transient legs.|
|Size||6-8 inches long.||16-20 inches long.|
|Weight||Weigh about 230g.||Weigh about 2-4kgs.|
|Teeth Color||Have brown-yellowish protruding teeth.||Have white teeth hidden in the mouth.|
|Tail Appearance||Has a rat-like tail.||Has a furry tail.|
|Feet Color||Have pink color feet.||Have dark brown or black color feet.|
|Mode of Nutrition||Omnivores||Herbivores|
|Offspring||Produces several litters per year.||Produces a single litter per year.|
|Habitat||Live below the ground||Live above the ground|
What Is a Gopher?
A gopher is a small North and Central American rodent that belongs to the Geomyoidae family, which consists of Kangaroo rats, pocket mice, and Kangaroo mice. There are over 35 species of a gopher on earth grouped into five genera.
These ground-dwelling rodents have brown fur with pink color feet, where the forelimbs are ideal for digging and holding objects. These small mammals prefer hanging out in the gardens and backyards in suburban areas.
Gophers also have brown to yellow teeth with large incisors that protrude out from the mouth. The hairless tail and fur-lined cheek pockets make this small mammal stand out from a groundhog.
Gophers spend most of their time inside the holes. They have separate burrows for foraging, storing foods, nesting, and relieving themselves. Stray animals also prefer using these complex burrow systems.
What Is a Groundhog?
A groundhog is another small North American mammal with short rough legs and red-brown fur. The rodent belongs to the Sciuridae family and is also part of the marmot group. It is also known as woodchuck (marmot monax).
Unlike the gophers, groundhogs have short and fully-covered tails with fur. Besides that, they live above the ground by climbing trees. But these rodents sleep in dens or inside tunnels.
Groundhogs have separate dens for winter and summer. They gorge themselves on food during summer and hibernate in the winter.
These ground pigs have hidden white teeth with a thick general physique. Male species are large and heavier than their female counterparts.
These small mammals are highly social and intelligent. But the population of their groups varies from one community to another.
Main Difference between Gopher and Groundhog
- Gophers belong to the Geomyoidae family, whereas groundhogs are members of the Sciuridae family.
- Gophers are native to North and Central America, while the groundhogs hail from the United States and North America.
- Groundhogs have a thick physique and rough legs, whereas gophers have fur-lined cheek pouches for storing food.
- Gophers have brown to yellow teeth protruding from their mouth, while the groundhogs have white teeth hidden in the mouth.
- Groundhogs are large and heavier, while gophers are small and lighter.
- Gophers are about 6 to 8 inches long, whereas groundhogs measure 16 to 20 inches long.
- Gophers have a hairless tail, while groundhogs have a short and furry tail.
- Groundhogs have dark brown or black feet, whereas gophers have pink color feet.
- Gophers are omnivores, while groundhogs are herbivores.
- Gophers live underground, whereas groundhogs live above the ground.
Similarities between Gopher and Groundhog
- Both are two types of rodents
- Both have a pair of sharp incisors for chewing food.
- Both belong to Rodentia order.
- Both hibernate in Winter
- Both have nearly brown fur.
So, what is the main difference between a gopher and a groundhog? The former is a small North and Central American rodent that belongs to the Geomyoidae family. The latter is a large and stockier rodent that belongs to the Sciuridae family.
The body structure, size, habitat, lifestyle, and appearance are crucial factors that help tell the differences between gophers and groundhogs. Gophers are underground dwelling rodents, while groundhogs love climbing trees.
Gophers spend most of their time underground and are rarely found on the surface. Groundhogs are quite intelligent and social animals since they live in small communities.
But both animals are types of rodents that belong to the Rodentia order. They have brown fur and hibernate during the winter season. Unlike groundhogs, gophers store their food in the burrows for consumption during winter.
- Sheila Dunning, Panhandle Habitat, Groundhog or Gopher, University of Florida.
- Jim Knight, Extension Wildlife Specialist, Wildlife Damage Control, Montana State University.
- Mitchell Mark, Animal Control Specialist, Woodchucks, National Wildlife Control Training Program.