The Difference Between Gophers and Moles

August 29, 2019

If you’re starting to notice mysterious holes appear in your backyard, you may be wondering if the culprit is a gopher or a mole. Although both rodents live underground, the problems that they create quickly come to the surface. Not to worry, there are ways to detect which pest is invading your backyard. This can be done by examining the animal’s behavior, inspecting the mounds they create, and taking note of their appearance (if you ever catch a glance of them, of course).


Gophers are medium-sized rodents with fur-lined pouches outside of their mouths. They are about 12 inches tall, and they have four incisor teeth that are always exposed. Gopher fur can be a variety of colors. These creatures have small necks and strong forefeet. Their claws are sharp and long, and they are utilized for digging. Some key features of gophers are their small eyes and small ears, as well as their whiskers. Additionally, gophers can easily navigate through their tunnels because of their sparsely haired tails. 


Moles are tiny mammals that belong to the shrew family. They are 6-8 inches in length, and they have pointy snouts along with paddle-like forefeet. Similar to gophers, moles have long claws, which they use to dig in the soil. In contrast to gophers, moles don’t have external ears. If you get the chance to see a mole, you might even be tricked into thinking that they don’t have eyes. Mole eyes are beady and nearly invisible. Their fur is soft, and it varies from gray to brown. Some moles even have silver highlights. 

Gopher Holes vs. Mole Holes

Gophers construct burrow systems that function as an elaborate underground tunnel network. The primary focus of a gopher’s burrow system is the main tunnel, which is usually about 18 inches below the surface and connects to lateral burrows. Lateral burrows end with soil plugs, which appear as mounds on the surface. Plugs are typically 20 inches in diameter and can be detected during the spring and the fall because these are the seasons where gophers are most active. An indication of gopher activity is the opening of the holes. Holes that are plugged with fresh dirt indicate that a gopher is still digging inside. Moles create mounds that are cone-shaped and 2 inches in diameter on the surface, also known as molehills. Moles burrow in coarse soil, but they don’t create several mounds as oppose to gophers. They build raised ridges or surface tunnels that are 16 inches deep. 

Moles and gophers should not get to live in your backyard rent-free. Their presence creates stress on your garden, as one single gopher can create upwards 200 mounds in your garden per year. Moles are your garden’s silent killer that you will find even more difficult to detect because they are hard to spot. You’ll know these rodents are destroying your garden when their tunneling activity becomes apparent.

If you’re a resident of Salt Lake County or Utah County, call All Green Pest Control today and our exterminators will take care of those moles and gophers for you.