Groundhog vs Gopher: 5 Key Differences

Written by August Buck
Updated: October 22, 2022
© iStock.com/mirecca
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You may not know the differences between a groundhog vs gopher– but you’re likely here to find out! There are many differences between these two common household pests, including their basic species makeup. For example, groundhogs are considered to be members of the Scuridae family, while gophers belong to the Geomyidae family. But this is only the beginning of their main differences.

In this article, we will discuss the primary differences between groundhogs and gophers so that you can tell them apart as well as learning about their basic habits and life spans. You’ll soon be able to tell the difference between these two rodents, as well as much more. Let’s get started! 

Comparing Groundhog vs Gopher

Goundhog  vs Gopher

©A-Z-Animals.com

GroundhogGopher
Size/Weight20 inches; 8-15 pounds8 inches; 1 pound or less
SpeciesSciuridaeGeomyidae
AppearanceThick body, brown legs, furry tail, no visible teethSmall slender body, pink legs, ratlike tail, visible yellow teeth
HabitsDoes not store food, burrows only during the nighttime and winter; prefers to be above groundComplex burrowing habits and system, complete with food storage; can also store food in its cheeks and prefers to live below ground
Lifespan2-6 years1-3 years

The Main Differences Between Groundhog vs Gopher

groundhog vs gopher
Groundhogs are considered to be members of the Scuridae family, while gophers belong to the Geomyidae family.

©iStock.com/mirecca

There are many key differences between groundhog vs gopher. The overall size and weight difference between groundhogs and gophers is vast, with groundhogs far outweighing gophers. The basic habits of these two animals are also different, with gophers preferring to live underground and store their food, while groundhogs are often found above ground and do not store their food.

But this is just the beginning of some of their key differences. Let’s discuss these creatures in more detail now. 

Groundhog vs Gopher: Size

One of the main differences between groundhogs versus gophers has to do with their overall size. You can easily tell a groundhog and a gopher a part based on their length and weight. Groundhogs tend to measure anywhere from 15 to 20 inches long, while gophers only measure 4-8 inches long. Groundhogs are also capable of weighing almost 4kg, while gophers will weigh 200grams at the most.

Even if you happen to observe an adolescent groundhog, this rodent will still be much larger than the average gopher. You may be able to easily tell the difference between them without having the two rodents side by side. 

groundhog vs gopher
The overall size and weight difference between groundhogs and gophers is vast, with groundhogs far outweighing gophers.

©eumates/Shutterstock.com

Groundhog vs Gopher: Species

Another key difference between groundhog vs gopher is their species. Groundhogs are members of the Sciuridae family, while gophers belong to the Geomyidae family. While you may have considered that these two rodents belong to the same family and scientific species, they are in fact very different. 

Gophers belong to a small species of rodents that also include small rats and mice, while groundhogs belong to the marmot family. There are only 10 to 15 species of marmots, making the basic familial differences between these two rodents more obvious. 

groundhog vs gopher
Groundhogs prefer to eat their food as they find it, while Gophers are notorious hoarders.

©iStock.com/undefined undefined

Groundhog vs Gopher: Appearance

You can easily tell a groundhog vs. gopher apart based on their overall appearance. This is another key difference to pay attention to when you are attempting to identify one rodent over the other. Let’s talk about some of these basic differences now.

The overall size difference between groundhogs and gophers should give you a clue as to which one is which. Gophers also have visible cheek pockets for storing food, while groundhogs have much more slender faces. Their overall fur colorings are strikingly similar, but you should pay close attention to their feet.

Groundhogs maintain brown or black feet to match their fur, while gophers have pink legs. The tails are also different between these two rodents. For example, groundhogs have a shorter and wider furry tail, while gophers have a tail that closely resembles a rat’s tail. 

A final difference in their appearance lies in their teeth. While all rodents have teeth that need to be constantly worn down in order to be effective, groundhogs do not have visible teeth from the outside. Gophers, on the other hand, often have yellowed teeth peeking out from their mouths, while groundhog teeth will be white if they are ever seen. 

groundhog vs gopher
Gophers also have visible cheek pockets for storing food, while groundhogs have much more slender faces.

Groundhog vs Gopher: Weight

Given the inherent size difference between groundhog vs gopher, another key difference between them lies in their weights. Gophers are extremely small when compared to a groundhog, often weighing no more than a single pound. Groundhogs on the other hand can weigh over 10 pounds, if not more. 

groundhog vs gopher
Gophers are extremely small when compared to a groundhog, often weighing no more than a single pound.

©Moosealope / Flickr

Groundhog vs Gopher: Habits

A final difference between these two rodents lies in their habits. Groundhogs vs gophers have very different lifestyles and preferences. For example, gophers live the majority of their life underground, in a series of complicated tunnels and burrows. Groundhogs prefer to live above ground unless they are sleeping or facing inclement weather. 

Another key difference between the lifestyles of a groundhog versus a gopher has to do with the way they store and consume their food. Groundhogs prefer to eat their food as they find it, while gophers are notorious hoarders. They can store food in their cheeks as well as in their burrows, and they often have whole rooms dedicated to their food storage!


The Featured Image

animals unique to North America: groundhog
The most well-known groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil.
© iStock.com/mirecca

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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