Understand Difference

Gopher vs Mole: Unraveling the Garden Pests’ Secrets for Efficient Control

Introduction to Gophers and

Moles as Garden Pests

As a garden lover, it’s frustrating to spend time and effort into creating a beautiful outdoor space, only to have it destroyed by unwanted pests. Two of the most common culprits are gophers and moles.

While they share some similarities, they are different animals entirely, and knowing how to identify and treat them is crucial for preserving your garden. In this article, we’ll delve into the characteristics and behaviors of gophers and moles, covering critical aspects such as their appearance, size, tunnels, habitat, food preferences, vision, and socialization.

Understanding these differences will make a significant impact on your ability to control these pests and keep your garden thriving.

Differences between Gophers and Moles in Size and Tunnels

Gophers and moles have distinct differences in their size and the tunnels that they create. Gophers are larger animals, growing up to 12 inches in length, with a stocky build and fur-lined cheek pouches.

They are known to create mounds above ground, leaving them open to the elements and predators. Gophers tunnel under the ground, leaving crescent-shaped mounds of dirt surrounding their holes.

They are drawn to agricultural fields and gardens because their herbivorous diets consist of roots, shrubs, and plants. Moles, on the other hand, are smaller creatures, growing up to 6 inches in length.

They have a sleek, cylindrical body, wide front paws, and squinty eyes. Moles produce small, round hills of dirt that sit on top of a run or tunnel.

Their tunnels are close to the surface, and they burrow directly through your lawn, pulling up layers of soil and grass in their path.

Differences in Habitat and Food Preferences

Gophers and moles have varying preferences when it comes to the habitats and food they seek out in their search for sustenance. Gophers love to feast on the roots of your garden plants, including potatoes, carrots, radishes, and flowers.

They are most commonly found in open fields, hedgerows, and gardens. They prefer to create their burrows in loose, sandy soil and are active throughout the year.

Gophers’ tunnels are a hazard to farming activity because their tunneling can damage the roots of crops and plants, hurting their growth and development. Moles, on the other hand, don’t eat plants, but instead feed on insects like earthworms, grubs, and other soil-dwelling pests.

They are primarily found in moist, loamy soil that is rich in organic matter. They are active year-round, digging tunnels to locate their prey.

Moles can damage a lawn’s root system, causing brown patches and other unsightly damage.

Differences in Appearance and Body Features

Gophers and moles have distinct physical characteristics that set them apart from each other. In terms of size, Gophers are bigger than moles, with stocky builds and short tails.

They are furry creatures, with brown, black, or gray fur, depending on their species. They have sharp front teeth and large incisors that are suitable for gnawing roots and other tough plant matter.

They also have fur-lined cheek pouches, which they use to carry food back to their burrows. Moles, on the other hand, are small creatures that have a cylindrical body, long nose, and pointy snout.

They have soft, dense fur in shades of gray, brown, or black. Their front paws are wide and shovel-like, enabling them to dig through the soil with ease.

They also have small eyes and ears, as their sense of touch and smell are their primary means of finding prey.

Differences in Vision and Socialization Behaviors

Gophers and moles have unique socialization and vision behaviors in which they use to survive in their respective habitats. Gophers have poor eyesight, but they have keen senses of smell and hearing.

They are solitary creatures and are territorial, occupying specific underground burrows. They mark off their territories using their urine, defending their turf against encroaching gophers.

Moles have tiny eyes, so they rely on their sense of touch, smell, and hearing to navigate their environment. They are solitary creatures too, living and foraging alone, except when they mate.

While they are not territorial like gophers, they do occupy specific tunnels, and will defend their territory if necessary.


Gophers and moles may look similar, but they have distinct differences in their size, tunnels, habitat, food preferences, appearance, and socialization and vision behaviors. Knowing these differences is essential if you want to control them and keep your garden healthy and vibrant.

With all the information we’ve provided, we hope you’ll be better equipped to identify and control these garden pests.

Gophers as Garden Pests

Gophers may look cute and harmless, but they can wreak havoc on your garden by gnawing on plant roots, uprooting plants, and creating unsightly mounds of dirt. In this section, we’ll discuss the signs of a gopher infestation, the damage they can do, and their feeding habits and food preferences, so you can take steps to prevent them from ruining your garden.

Signs of Gopher Infestation and Damage to Plants

One of the most common signs of a gopher infestation is the presence of gopher mounds, which are crescent-shaped piles of dirt around their burrow openings. These mounds can be damaging to your garden, as they not only destroy the look of your lawn but can also make it difficult to mow and maintain your plants.

Another sign of a gopher infestation is the presence of burrow openings, which are usually two inches in diameter, with seared edges. If you come across these openings on your lawn or farm, it’s time to take action immediately.

Gopher tunnels can cause structural damage to the roots of your plants, making them weaker and prone to diseases.

Gopher Feeding Habits and Food Preferences

Gophers are known for the damage they cause to the roots of plants that they feed upon. They prefer tubers, bulbs, and fleshy roots of plants like carrots, radishes, potatoes, and flowers like roses, daisies, and poppies.

Additionally, they feed on small mammals, insects, and bird eggs found in the soil.

Gophers are herbivores and eat an amount equivalent to their weight every day.

They also have the ability to store food in their fur-lined cheek pouches and bring it back to their burrows, where they eat it over the course of several days. To avoid gopher infestations, you must remove plants that draw them, like flowers or vegetable gardens.

Another method to keep gophers away is by planting mustard plants or castor beans, which gophers dislike.

Moles as Garden Pests

While moles may not eat away at your garden plants, they can cause significant damage to your lawn by burrowing underneath, pulling up soil and grass to create mounds. In this section, we’ll discuss the signs of a mole infestation, the damage they can cause, and their feeding habits and food preferences, so you can take steps to prevent them from ruining your lawn.

Signs of Mole Infestation and Damage to Lawn

One of the most common signs of a mole infestation is the presence of raised dirt mounds. Unlike gopher mounds, which are crescent-shaped, mole mounds are round, with no visible opening.

Moles create tunnels that run under the ground, which can cause significant damage to the root systems of your lawn, making it weaker and susceptible to diseases. Another sign of a mole infestation is a network of raised ridges throughout the lawn.

These ridges are caused by mole tunnels, and the soil in these ridges can inhibit grass growth, causing unsightly brown patches, and crumbling the surface of your lawn.

Mole Feeding Habits and Food Preferences

Moles are insectivores, meaning they feed primarily on insects like earthworms, grubs, and ants. They use their sense of smell and their well-developed sense of touch to locate and capture their prey.

Since the mole’s primary food source is underground, this makes them harder to spot. You can tell what type of insects a mole has eaten by where they’ve left their excavated soil.

Moles create piles of excavated soil that are visible on top of your lawn, making it easier to identify what they are eating. To prevent mole infestations, you can use insecticides to eradicate the insects they feed on or encourage natural predators to prey on the insects.

Moles do not like wet soil and are less likely to inhabit an area where the soil is damp.


Gophers and moles are two of the most common garden pests that can wreak havoc on your garden and lawn. Knowing how to identify infestations and the damage they can cause will allow you to take the necessary steps to prevent them from destroying your outdoor space.

In addition, taking measures to avoid planting plants and flowers that are attractive to gophers and using natural methods to rid your lawn of lawn grubs can keep them away from your property.

Differences in Food Storage and Collection Methods

Gophers and moles have unique food storage and collection methods that differ greatly from one another. In this section, we’ll explore the differences in how gophers and moles store and collect their food, including their habits and preferences.

Mole’s Use of Toxic Saliva to Store Food

One of the most unique aspects of moles is their use of toxic saliva to store food. Moles produce a toxin within their saliva, which they use to immobilize and preserve their prey.

The toxin serves as a natural preservative, keeping their food fresh for future consumption. After capturing their prey, moles will inject their saliva into the creature’s body, effectively paralyzing it.

Then, they drag the immobilized prey back to a designated storage chamber within their burrow. By doing this, they create a kind of “pantry” within their own home, which allows them to have a fresh and steady supply of food without the need to hunt consistently.

Moles are also known to create a network of interconnected burrow systems with many different storage chambers, each containing a variety of preserved prey. These storage chambers are typically located near the center of the burrow system, which means other creatures cannot easily access them.

Gopher’s Use of Cheek Pouches to Collect and Store Food

Unlike moles, gophers do not produce toxic saliva to preserve their food. Instead, they use a unique physical adaptation to collect and store food.

Gophers have large, fur-lined cheek pouches that they use to collect and transport food. These pockets can hold up to several times the animal’s weight in food, which allows them to collect enough food in one trip to last for days.

Once they have collected their food, gophers will bring it back to their burrow system, which functions as both their home and their pantry. Inside these underground tunnels, they store their food in designated storage chambers, which are separate from their living quarters.

Gopher storage chambers tend to be located closer to the surface of the ground, which makes it easier for them to access their food. These chambers are typically large enough to hold a substantial amount of food, and gophers will often store enough to last them through the winter months.

Final Thoughts

Gophers and moles have unique food storage and collection methods that differ significantly from one another. While moles use toxic saliva to preserve and store their food, gophers use large, fur-lined cheek pouches to collect and transport their food.

Regardless of their individual approaches, both animals have developed survival strategies that allow them to thrive in their respective habitats. Understanding the unique food storage and collection habits of gophers and moles is just one aspect of controlling these garden pests.

By knowing their preferences and living habits, you can better identify infestations and take steps to prevent them from damaging your yard and garden. In conclusion, understanding the differences between gophers and moles as garden pests is crucial for effectively managing and preventing damage to your garden and lawn.

By recognizing the signs of infestation, such as mounds and burrow openings, and understanding their feeding habits and food preferences, you can take proactive measures to protect your plants and landscaping. While moles use toxic saliva to store food and create intricate burrow systems, gophers utilize large cheek pouches for food collection and rely on underground storage chambers.

Armed with this knowledge, you can implement strategies to deter these pests and maintain the health and beauty of your outdoor space. Remember, early detection and appropriate action are key to successfully managing gopher and mole infestations.

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