Definitions

gopher

gopher

[goh-fer]
gopher or pocket gopher, name for the burrowing rodents of the family Geomyidae, found in North America and Central America. The gopher is gray, buff, or dark brown. Its combined head and body length is 5 to 12 in. (13-30 cm) depending on the species; its tail is short. The name pocket gopher refers to the fur-lined pouches that open on the outside of its cheeks and are used for carrying food and nesting material. The gopher has extremely long upper and lower teeth, which are always exposed, and broad forepaws armed with enormous claws; it uses its teeth as picks and its forepaws as shovels as it tunnels through the ground. Because gophers do not hibernate, they must accumulate stores of food for the winter. They live and do most of their foraging underground, feeding chiefly on roots and tubers. Except for brief pairing during the mating season, gophers are solitary—a single animal occupies each tunnel system. Although their extensive, ramifying tunnels sometimes damage earth dams and banks, gophers are of some value as agents of soil aeration and in forming humus by burying organic matter. Eastern pocket gophers, species of the genus Geomys, are found in the United States from the Rocky Mts. to the Mississippi valley and on the Gulf Coast. Western pocket gophers, species of Thomomys, are found from the Rocky Mts. to the Pacific and from S Canada to the Mexican border. The Mexican pocket gopher, Cratogeomys castanops, ranges from the SW United States to central Mexico. Other genera are found in Mexico and Central America. The name gopher is also applied to the ground squirrel in some regions. Gophers are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Rodentia, family Geomyidae.

Indigo snake (Drymarchon corais)

Nonvenomous snake (Drymarchon corais, family Colubridae) found from the southeastern U.S. to Brazil. The largest snake in the U.S., it has a record length of 9.2 ft (2.8 m). In the U.S. it is blue-black; southward it may have brown foreparts, and in the tropics it is often called brown snake. It kills small vertebrates, including venomous snakes, by crushing with its jaws and the weight of its coils, but is not a constrictor. In defense it hisses and vibrates its tail but rarely strikes. It may share a burrow with a gopher tortoise, for which it is often called gopher snake. It has been listed as an endangered species since the 1970s.

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or pocket gopher

Eastern pocket gopher (Geomys).

Any of about 40 species (family Geomyidae) of stocky rodents found in North and Central America. Gophers range in length from 5 to 18 in. (13 to 45 cm), including a short, sparsely haired tail. They have chisel-like front teeth; long, strong claws on their forefeet; and large fur-lined pouches that open externally on each side of the mouth. Coat colour varies from almost white to brown or black. Gophers live alone in extensive, shallow underground burrows marked by a series of rounded earth mounds on the surface. They feed on the underground parts of plants, which they obtain as they tunnel along.

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