Cratogeomys castanopsyellow-faced pocket gopher

Geographic Range

Southeastern Colorado and southwest Kansas, westernmost Oklahoma, to central San Luis Potosi (Mexico) (Wilson and Reeder, 1993)

Habitat

Cratogeomys castanops favors deep sandy or clayey soils for burrowing. Mounds of dirt excavated from burrows can often be found under bushes or cacti. When Pappogeomys is in a area that is also occupied by other species of pocket gopher (/Thomomys/ or Geomys) it tends to be restricted to shallower, rockier soils. It also appears to do better in drier habitats, with more desert plants (Davis and Schmidly, 1994; Paradiso, 1975; Whitaker, 1997).

Physical Description

The fur of Cratogeomys castanops varies from a light yellowish color to a reddish brown dorsally. The feet are dark. The tail has little or no hair. The length of the body is 226-320mm, and the tail length ranges from 70-105mm. Pappogeomys can be distinguished from other pocket gopher genera by the single groove on their incisors (Thomomys have no grooves on incisors; Geomys have two grooves on incisors.) (Whitaker, 1997)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    213 to 330 g
    7.51 to 11.63 oz

Reproduction

Cratogeomys castanops will often have multiple litters in a single year, and there are generally two young per litter. The sex ratio is skewed, with up to four times as many males as females. Mating begins in spring. Females will become reproductive in the year of their birth, but males will not mate until the following spring. (MacDonald, 1984; Paradiso, 1975).

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

Pocket gophers are solitary and territorial. Territories may overlap at their edges - in particular, territories of males will overlap with those of females. Pocket gophers are aggressive with other pocket gophers unknown to them, and males are aggressive towards other males during the breeding season. (MacDonald, 1984).

Except when raising young, each animal will have its own burrow system. Shallower tunnels are used for foraging, and deeper tunnels for food storage and nesting. Openings of tunnels are kept plugged. (Whitaker, 1997).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Like other pocket gophers, Cratogeomys castanops is herbivorous. It will eat stalks and roots of many different plants, including stalks and joints of prickly pear. However, most foraging is done from underground. While foraging, C. castanops will store food in its cheek pouches. Most water is derived from the diet, so they drink very little water (Paradiso, 1975; Whitaker, 1997).

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • roots and tubers
  • wood, bark, or stems

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Cratogeomys castanops is considered an agricultural pest because of it's burrows and the fact that it will eat the root systems of crop plants (Whitaker, 1997).

  • Negative Impacts
  • crop pest

Conservation Status

This species is relatively common within it's range.

Other Comments

This species is also known as Pappogeomys castanops in the literature.

Contributors

Kate Teeter (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

folivore

an animal that mainly eats leaves.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

Davis, W., D. Schmidly. 1994. The Mammals of Texas. Austin: Texas Parks and Wildlife Press.

MacDonald, D. 1984. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File Publications.

Paradiso, J. 1975. Walker's Mammal's of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Whitaker, J. 1997. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals. New York: Alfred Knopf.

Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 1993. Mammal Species of the World. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.