Valley pocket gopher
Botta's pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae ) is a burrowing rodent native to western North America. It is also known in some sources as Valley pocket gopher, particularly in California. Both the specific and common names of this species honor Paul-Émile Botta, a naturalist, and archaeologist who collected mammals in California in 1827 and 1828.
Botta's pocket gophers are medium-sized animals. Males of this species are larger than females and are believed to continue growing throughout their life. These animals have smooth, short, and soft fur, varying in color from grey to brown to almost black. Botta's pocket gophers have short legs with long front claws. They have small eyes and ears and deep fur-lined cheek pouches.
Botta's pocket gophers can be found from California east to Texas, and from Utah and southern Colorado south to Mexico. Within this geographical area, they inhabit a range of habitats, including woodlands, chaparral, scrubland, and agricultural land.
Botta's pocket gophers are generally solitary burrowing creatures. They are active for around nine hours each day, spending most of their time feeding in their burrows. They can be active during the day and during the night. Their burrows include many deep chambers for nesting, food storage, and defecation. These burrows are located 1.6 m (5 ft 3 in) below ground. Aboveground traces of these burrows are sometimes called "gopher eskers". Outside of the breeding season, each burrow is inhabited by a single adult, with a young that leaves once it is weaned. Botta's pocket gophers are territorial and aggressively defend their territories. Males have larger territories than females. These pocket gophers are not very vocal, but they communicate by making clicking noises, soft hisses, and squeaks.
Little is known about the mating system and reproductive behavior of Botta's pocket gophers. In areas with sufficient food, breeding can occur year-round. In the north, and other, less hospitable, environments, it occurs only during the spring. The gestation period lasts 18 days after which a litter of up to 12 pups is born, although 3 or 4 are more typical. The young are born hairless and blind and measure about 5 cm (2.0 in) in length. Eyes and ears open after 26 days and pups become weaned between 36-40 days. They become independent and leave their mother after 60 days, and grow the coat of adults after 100 days. Females are ready to breed within the same season they are born or within 3 months of their birth. Males are ready to breed when they are 6-8 months old.
There are no major threats to Botta's pocket gophers. However, they are considered a pest in urban and agricultural areas due to their burrowing habit.
The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the Botta's pocket gopher total population size, but this animal is common and widespread throughout its known range. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.