Controlling Pocket Gophers in Nebraska

Published 2009

Pocket gophers are burrowing rodents with stocky bodies, small ears and eyes, and a sparsely-haired tail. They are adapted to an existence that is almost entirely below-ground (Figure 1). Typically, pocket gophers appear aboveground to excavate soil to the surface or to disperse to new areas. They are named for the large external fur-lined cheek pouches that carry food or bedding material to underground caches or nests. The lips of pocket gophers close behind the large incisors, giving them a buck-toothed appearance. Powerful front shoulders and limbs end in long claws that are adapted for excavating and moving hundreds of pounds of soil in a year.

The plains pocket gopher is found throughout Nebraska, particularly in alfalfa, pastures, rangelands, and roadside areas. The smaller northern pocket gopher is found in clay soils north of the Pine Ridge in northwestern Nebraska.

Adult pocket gophers range in size from 1 pound in eastern Nebraska to 1/3 pound in western Nebraska. Larger animals are about one-foot long, including a four-inch tail. Their short fur ranges in color from a dark chocolate brown in the east to a sandy brown in western Nebraska. Pocket gophers are not protected by law in Nebraska.

Publication Details


Stephen M Vantassel

Scott E. Hygnstrom

Dennis M Ferraro

Bruce E. Anderson


Natural Resources

Wildlife Management

Publication Date May 01, 2003
Last Revision Date January 21, 2009
Language English


Series NebGuide