Botta's Pocket Gopher - "Chewie"
Thomomys bottae aka Valley Pocket Gopher
Chewie joined WERC's team in December of 2016. He was a victim of a trapping incident. He was unable to return to his original location so he started calling W.E.R.C. home in 2017. In 2019, we observed a small tumor starting to form on his back left leg. After blood work and x-rays were taken, it was found that his condition was terminal. We then placed Chewie in a form of animal hospice until his time came. Chewie passed away January 2019.
Gopher Fast Facts:
Botta's pocket gopher is a medium-sized gopher, with adults reaching a length of 18 to 27 centimetres (7.1 to 10.6 in), including a 5 to 6 centimetres (2.0 to 2.4 in) tail. Males are larger, with a weight of 160–250 grams (5.6–8.8 oz), compared with 120–200 grams (4.2–7.1 oz) in the females. Coloration is highly variable, and has been used to help distinguish some of the many subspecies; it may also change over the course of a year as the animals molt.
Strictly herbivorous (plant eating), prefers shoots and grasses that are consumed from below the surface, where it spends 90% of its life. Diet is supplemented with tubers, bulbs, and roots during colder months.
Their digging aerates the soil which helps promote new growth during the spring. In areas of fire, Gopher are often among the first animals to return. Their digging prompts soil aeration and grings seeds to the surface which helps spur the new growth in these burned areas.
Highly adaptable and able to dig with their teeth through compacted soils, clay, even chewing through concrete. Other species of gophers dig witwh their claws.
Active day and night making them vulnerable to daytime predators and nighttime predators. Valuable food source for hawks, snakes, bobcats, foxes, owls, coyotes, badgers.
In our area they breed year round, having up to 4 litters per year.
Fun fact: The above ground traces of gopher burrows are called "eskers"