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.
Fig 1. The margin of a mole mound tends to be circular. (Credit: Larry A. Strand)
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 the case of gophers, cause chewing damage.
Fig 2. Gopher mounds are crescent-shaped and have a plugged burrow opening. (Credit: Jack Kelly Clark)
Once you've correctly identified which pest made the mound, consult the management information for these two pests by visiting the UC IPM Pest Notes Pocket Gophers and Moles.