Identifying what is digging in your yard can be a challenge. To the untrained eye, and even sometimes to the trained eye, the activity from a gopher and the activity from a mole seem the same. Both critters dig underground, make mounds, and are rarely seen on the surface. (In fact, if you see something running on the surface it is probably a different type of critter, like a vole or ground squirrel.) While they have some similarities they are actually very different animals!
Gophers are herbivores which means they are going after your plants and their root systems. This means that you will typically see plant death or plants disappearing on your property.
Gopher mounds are typically crescent-shaped with a plug in the middle. Their mounds also tend to be flatter with fine and uniform dirt. It is common for gophers to dig around the same area so it is common to see mounds grouped together.
Moles are carnivores so they are going after grubs and insects in the soil. Their digging can potentially cause damage to root systems to plants and lawns, however, if they are not in your lawn you can oftentimes just stomp down the trails and mounds to try to encourage them to leave on their own.
Mole mounds tend to leave taller, volcanic shaped mounds with no center plug. The dirt will typically be chunkier in consistency. They will also leave raised trails of pushed up dirt that often run along hard edges like bender boards, driveways, sidewalks, pathway stones, and retaining walls.
The difference in appearance between gopher and mole mounds is caused by the way that each animal digs. Gophers typically move at a 45 degree angle and collect the dirt as they dig then push it outside of their tunnel systems as they work. While moles bulldoze the dirt out of their way, forcing it up and out towards the surface. Since moles are hunting they also often travel further and faster than gophers.
Gophers have small ears and very large exposed front teeth. They use their mouths and front paws to siphon the dirt as they dig. You will sometimes see their heads pop out to scope out the area!
Moles have tiny eyes and have long flexible snouts to help them sniff out their food. They use their large shovel-like front paws to bulldoze dirt out of their way.
Please give us a call or reach out to us via our online submission if you are experiencing critter activity on your property!