What Do Gophers Eat?

Gophers feed primarily on plant matter, including grasses, trees, roots and seeds. These animals eat both foods below the surface of the earth, such as potatoes and carrots, and those above the earth’s surface, such as peas and cabbage. Gophers also eat some earthworms and soft insects.

Because of their dietary preferences, gophers are common garden pests. Although they are sometimes seen above ground running off with crops such as peas and Brussels sprouts, these rodents don’t always cause obvious damage to plants. Sometimes, they simply nibble plant roots underground, causing the plant to die when its root system can no longer deliver moisture to its stems and leaves. Growing plants that gophers don’t like, such as peppers, garlic and rhubarb, next to more tempting garden plants may help keep gophers away.

Gophers are considered rodents, and there are about 35 related species living in North and Central America. They live in underground burrows, and they’re known for building complex tunnels underground. They use these tunnels to travel to and from various food sources, and they carry gathered food back to the main burrows through the tunnels. Gophers are solitary animals; generally, a single gopher lives in each burrow. They share some overlapping tunnels during mating season, but once mating is finished, the male and female generally each retreat to their own private quarters.