Pocket Gophers and Their Sleeping Behavior

Pocket gophers are rodents from the Geomyidae family known for their seemingly endless supply of energy. Most of North America’s 34 known species of gophers are active throughout the year. You surely would wonder where the gopher gets that seemingly unlimited energy.

Many don’t know a lot about the pocket gopher’s sleeping behavior, however. These very shy and timid creatures sure know how to be discrete.

Are you wondering if these energetic critters ever sleep? Do they hibernate during the winter and then spend the stored energy when spring comes?

These are just some of the very interesting questions Floofmania is going to answer in this article. We’ll make sure you’re not going to snooze on this one.

Let’s get started.

When Do Gophers Sleep?

Gophers are known to be nocturnal creatures. This might make you assume that they spend their time sleeping during the daytime, but it’s actually not that simple.

The gopher sleeps at any time of the day. Both their level of activity and their sleeping patterns change according to the season.

Let’s look at the pocket gopher’s sleeping pattern throughout the year:

The Pocket Gopher’s Sleeping Behavior In Spring 

Spring is the time when gophers are most active. They can spend at least 9 hours a day digging while also foraging for food. Spring is when the gopher’s sleeping pattern is considered “normal”. It sleeps during the day and becomes a workaholic at night.

During this season, the usually crepuscular animal creates or expands its vast tunnel network—not that anyone notices from above the ground. The gopher spends 95% of its time underground and its activity levels peak during the twilight hours

Nighttime is when the soil is softest due to the increased moisture and is the best time for the gopher to dig. Working in the hours between dusk and dawn allows the rodent to sleep during the day.

We can also assume that in between its digging and eating, the gopher will sneak in a few naps. 

Gopher Sleeping Behavior During Summer 

Like many animals, the gopher works during the day and sleeps a lot at night during the summertime.

It still spends a lot of hours digging but also allots more time foraging. Food caching is important for this little critter. It will start storing food in preparation for the winter during the summer months.

Perhaps the reason for this change in sleeping behavior is that the gopher doesn’t like to get left behind when it comes to foraging for food. It certainly doesn’t like to sleep when all the other animals are out eating their food!

Gopher Sleeping Behavior During Fall

The gopher’s sleeping behavior in the fall starts to shift to a semi-nocturnal pattern. It is still active during the day but also works during the night hours as well.

The rodent continues to expand its tunnels and food caching. Sleeping and resting are done in between work.

There is no specific period of rest and sleep during the fall season. The gopher can be awake or asleep at any time of the day. It just depends on how much time it needs to recharge. Resting and sleeping time can be a few minutes to a few hours.

Gopher Sleeping Behavior During Winter

Now here’s the most interesting part. While some animals hibernate or migrate to warmer locations during the winter season, the gopher is quite different.

The gopher does not hibernate and does not migrate. It stays in its burrows and works regardless of the time of day, thus also affecting its sleeping time.

Pocket gophers are almost as active in winter as they are during spring. Gophers love working on the soft, cool, soil of the winter season—not that digging through hard, dry soil is a problem. It makes the digging much easier. They dig so much that their sleeping patterns are also affected.

The winter months are when the gopher’s sleeping pattern is the weirdest. The days and nights during the winter season are dark and cold. There is no sunlight that tells the gopher to stop working and get some sleep. 

The situation greatly affects the rodent’s sleeping pattern as it can no longer distinguish night from day and it will continue to dig and do other daily activities to its heart’s content.

The only time the gopher rests is when it feels tired and exhausted. It will go to its sleeping quarters and rest—or so it would seem.

Despite the tight schedule during the winter months, the gopher does have another important task at hand. The end of winter also signals the start of their mating season. Do these gophers still have time to sleep?

Fun Fact: Winter is like any other season to pocket gophers. The freezing soil and cold air do not reach their underground habitat. The change in their sleeping behavior is not due to the changes in climate but a response to the availability of resources.

We can also assume based on the information presented that gophers are not strictly nocturnal animals.

Where Do Gophers Sleep?

The fossorial gopher sleep in the safest and most of the time, the deepest area of their tunnel network—the deepest chamber. Its sleeping quarters are usually located about 6 to 10 feet below the surface. 

The fact that its sleeping area is strategically located in the deepest area of the burrow system, ensures that the gopher is safe from predators and other environmental incidents like floods and such.

The same room is also where female gophers convert the area to nest their offspring. When the gopher pups are weaned by the 5th week, the mommy gopher reverts the room back into sleeping quarters. 

To give you an idea of what a gopher’s sleeping quarters would look like, it is best to have a clear picture of what a gopher’s home looks like.

Gophers live in a complex burrow system composed of tunnels and chambers. Its home has a main tunnel and branching pathways that lead to special areas. These areas are used for the following purposes:

  • Sleeping and resting.
  • Food storage.
  • Nesting of offspring during the breeding season.

There are also tunnels that lie parallel to the ground. This serves as a pathway to their food sources above ground.

How Long Do Gophers Sleep?

As weird as it sounds, gophers do not have a definite time on how long and when to sleep. They will stop working and sleep whenever they feel tired and then resume again. Their sleeping patterns also vary according to the season and energy exerted. These rodents surely need to have clocks!

The more energy the pocket gopher spends, the more sleep it’ll need!

Author: Jomvie Reyes

Jomvie has been a writer for over 10 years and animals and wildlife are among his favorite topics. Learning and writing about the vast and diverse wildlife from all over the world, is more of a hobby than a job for him. Jomvie loves to watch and observe these remarkable species up close and personal.

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