Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals
Search the Archive

  Rodentia · Geomyidae · Geomys arenarius
  Smithsonian Institution
  Copyright Notice
  Privacy Notice
 
Geomys arenarius

Desert Pocket Gopher

Order: Rodentia
Family: Geomyidae

 

Conservation Status: Near Threatened.


The Desert Pocket Gopher is built for digging, with strong front legs and massive claws. Small eyes and ears are adaptations for traveling through tunnels. It uses its short tail as a guide if it has to back up. When it ventures aboveground, it stuffs large amounts of the vegetation it eats - including alfalfa, if it lives on cropland - into its external, fur-lined cheek pouches. After an expedition to the surface, the Desert Pocket Gopher plugs the opening to its burrow, which helps keep the climate inside comfortable and predators out. These Pocket Gophers can be very common in northern Mexico, western Texas, and south-central New Mexico where soil conditions are right. They are solitary and intolerant of others of their own species, and they exhibit a nasty disposition if handled by people.

Also known as:
Rio Grande Pocket Gopher, Tularosa Pocket Gopher, Sand Pocket Gopher

Sexual Dimorphism:
Males are larger than females.

Length:
Average: 254 mm
Range: 218-302 mm

Weight:
Range: 165-254 g

References:

Merriam, C.H., 1895.  Monographic revision of the pocket gophers, family Geomidae (exclusive of the species of Thomomys,) p. 139.  North American Fauna, 8:1-258.

Links:

Mammal Species of the World

Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account

Distribution of Geomys arenarius