U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

April 2005


Copyright 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Burrow plugging is readily observed among mammals adapted for digging (i.e., fossorial mammals) as they create and maintain their burrows. We investigated the influence of light, burrow openings, and thermal environment as cues of pocket gopher (Thomomys mazama, Thomomys talpoides) behavior. When given free access to light and no light during artificial-burrow preference trials, both Thomomys spp. consistently plugged (i.e., avoided) light treatments. Burrow openings did not notably affect plugging behavior of T. mazama. Gophers (T. talpoides) plugged the artificial burrows within the light and cold (7 -C) treatments, but not within the no-light, and 18 or 31 -C treatments when light and temperature were varied independently. Whereas the presence of light and low ambient temperatures induce burrow maintenance by pocket gophers, these cues help meliorate adverse conditions within subsurface environs.