As you may know, Groundhog Day is observed on February 2nd to predict if there will be an early spring or if six more weeks of winter are in order. Groundhogs are large, ground-dwelling rodents found mainly on the East Coast that can cause severe damage to landscapes, gardens, and structures.
While California doesn't have these future-predicting rodents, the West Coast is home to groundhog relatives and look-alikes that are often considered pests in our landscapes and homes. These include other destructive, burrowing rodents like pocket gophers,
Finding freshly dug mounds of soil in the garden, lawn, or landscape might be a sign of gophers or moles. Their mounds look similar and are frequently confused for each other.
Figure 1 shows a mole mound, which usually is volano-shaped with a circular margin. Figure 2 illustrates a gopher mound and the characteristic crescent shape and plugged opening. Actual mounds may look slightly different from these pictures, but the descriptions are typical of the two vertebrates.
The burrowing activity of both moles and gophers can damage plant roots by dislodging and drying them out. Mounds themselves can be an aesthetic problem in turf and landscapes, but they can also be tripping hazards. Both species eat plant material, and in...