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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Evaluation of Forage Preferences and their Corresponding Nutritional Content for Northern Pocket Gophers (Thomomys talpoides)


Pocket gophers cause substantial damage in a number of western states. A better knowledge of their forage preferences and the nutritional attributes of those preferences could result in better management of populations and reduction of damage. We live-trapped northern pocket gophers in northern Idaho and brought them into captivity at Washington State University, Pullman, WA. We tested their preferences for several species of forbs, grasses, and woody species. Preferences varied in all plant groups. Forbs were highly preferred in early summer but dropped off in late summer, perhaps due to senescence. However, preference for woody species increased in late summer and winter. There were few consistent correlations between forage preferences and nutri-tional levels of those forages. However, in one late summer trial, gophers did seem to prefer forage species high in crude protein and apparent digestible protein. This suggests the importance of protein levels in foods of gophers as has been found with other wildlife species and situations.

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