13 Striped Gopher


THE gopher is an animal some like the squirrel, only it lives in the ground instead of in the trees. Perhaps most of you have seen the striped gopher like the one in the picture, by the road or in the field, and noticed how he will sit up like a bear, and watch you pass; but if he thinks there is any danger of being hurt, he suddenly disappears into his house under the ground. 

There is also the gray gopher, whose habits are very much like those of the striped. But the pocket gopher is more peculiar than either of these. It is some larger than the others are, and nearly the color of a mouse. On each shoulder is a pocket, all nicely lined with fur, in which he carries wheat, corn, small potatoes, or whatever he finds for food. 

These he places there with his fore paws, and removes them by the muscular action of the pockets. 

His front feet are so large and strong that they seem to be made on purpose for digging. This he can do very rapidly, and seems to enjoy it. His home differs some from that of the striped and gray gophers, because he uses the dirt which he digs out to cover the opening, or door, of his hole, so that there is nothing to be seen but a little mound of dirt. 

They sometimes have a large number of these mounds, which are all connected by underground passages, and look like little villages. The little fellow sometimes entirely destroys fruit trees, for he not only gnaws the bark off the roots, but cuts them off with his teeth, just as the beaver cuts down trees. 

We children once caught two of them, and put them in a box of sand, where we could watch them. We noticed that in digging a home they would work away furiously for a few moments, and then turn around and push the dirt out with their front paws, using them as hands. They were at first very cross, and would bite at us if we offered to touch them, but after a while they seemed to enjoy being petted as much as a kitten. We had not kept them very long before one died, and the other was so knowing as to pile the dirt against the side of the box high enough so that he could escape over the top. 

Are not the small animals of God's creation as wonderful as the large ones? 

M. H. S