Differences in Appearance
Although both gophers and moles are known for digging through dirt, there are numerous differences between the two pests. For example, when trying to distinguish between gopher vs. mole infestations, one of the easiest points of differentiation is the pests' appearance. Gophers look a bit like miniature groundhogs, with small ears, beady eyes, and short, brown hair. Moles, on the other hand, have stocky bodies with very short front legs, large scoop-shaped claws, and gray fur. Their faces have pointed snouts, tiny eyes, and ears so small they can't be seen.
Differences in Behavior & Problems Caused
Gophers feed on vegetation, consuming subterranean roots while digging through the earth. They use their claws to construct their burrows, manipulating soil with their powerful legs and broad chests. Underground utility cables and irrigation pipes are often damaged due to pocket gopher gnawing, and the pests break up bark when pruning and chewing on the bottoms of trees. Gopher damage to root systems often goes unnoticed until the aboveground plants begin to wilt and wither away.
Moles are found near golf courses or anywhere there is loose, sandy soil. They spend even more time underground than gophers as their paddle-like feet are specifically designed for ease of movement while tunneling. Their ears and eyes are virtually nonexistent, and the pests rely heavily on their sensitive snouts for navigation. Since moles search for food and mates near the ground surface, homeowners will notice raised tracks of dirt around the yard when mole infestations are present.
Using Damage to Identify Infestations
The two pests disrupt lawns in similar ways, so it's often difficult to distinguish between gophers vs. moles based on damage alone. However, mounds of excavated soil found near gopher burrows are typically flat and spread out, while moles leave behind volcano-shaped piles of dirt. Unlike gophers, moles generally avoid plant material while feeding, snacking mostly on earthworms and grubs. Although moles cover more area underground while burrowing, gophers cause more damage aboveg round, often uprooting flower beds and vegetable gardens.
Homeowners who encounter either a mole or a gopher infestation are encouraged to contact wildlife removal professionals. The specialists at Critter Control have the skills and tools necessary to keep gophers and moles from causing too much destruction in yards.