What Are the Differences Between a Mole and a Gopher?

Gophers are burrowing rodents and members of the zoological family Geomyidae. They are famous for their long teeth, which rest on the outside of their lip, allowing them to use their teeth to cut plant roots and shovel dirt without having to open their mouth. In contrast, moles have cylindrical bodies with large, clawed, paddle-like forefeet. Their eyes and ears are difficult to see, and they have slim, pointy noses with short tails.

Moles and gophers both tend to stay underground, especially moles, who usually only leave their tunnels in search of food or to escape flooding. Both creatures tunnel, however, and the differences between their tunnels indicate whether the tunnel was created by a mole or a gopher.

Mole tunnels tend to be a little smaller than a gopher’s. Gophers produce dirt mounds that wrap about three-quarters of the way around the hole, while a mole’s dirt mound usually wraps all the way around with a hole in the middle. Moles tend to make the dirt look fluffy, and their mounds are distinctly volcano-shaped. Gophers also produce feed holes that are covered with a thin layer of dirt. The gophers use the holes to feed close to the surface while maintaining cover.