A visitor at Grand Canyon’s North Rim asks, “what are those funny looking dirt mounds in the meadows?”
Not my photo
Winter soil casts left by Northern Pocket Gophers who are well-equipped for digging tunnels with large-clawed front paws and large front teeth used to loosen soil and rocks while digging.
During winter they also tunnel in the snow then later backfill with excess soil from new tunnels. When the snow melts, fragmented sections are the result of gopher’s winter work.
Adult Northern Pocket Gophers measure 8 inches (20 cm) in length including their 2-inch (5 cm) tail. They get their name from their fur-lined cheek pouches used to carry food much like a squirrel. However, the pockets on a gopher open on the outside and turn inside out for emptying and cleaning.
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