Gophers' Lonely Lives : KC's Blog
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(Kool Cat)

(Kool Cat)
KC's Wild Facts 

Gophers' Lonely Lives

by Kool Cat KC on 03/07/12

Can you imagine being six and your mom kicking you out of your home? How about having to walk about a mile and then making a home of your own, still at age six?  That's exactly what Northern Pocket Gophers do. They lead solitary lives and only come together during mating times. They use their tunnels to burrow under farmers fields and steal their carrots and potatoes, and to eat the bulbs and roots of meadows on mountains. The tunnels are also their storage closets. So they don't want to share their tunnels with any other animal or gopher, not even their own kid.  I'm glad Mother Cat was not like that. She let me stay with her until my human got me. Can you find other animals that live underground? Find out about gophers and one other animal.  Figure out how their bodies are made to allow them to live under ground.

Gophers are solitary because it's hard to build your tunnels and it isn't always easy to get food. Their tunnels can be as long as 500 feet.  The tunnels wind around underground.  There is a special area to store the food, and there is a special area to poop.  When times get hard and there's not enough food, they'll go back and pick through their poop to see if they can find anything that will fill them up. Gophers will fight with other gophers to protect their food and their tunnels.  Do you know of any other animals that dig through poop to find food?

Gophers can be heroes and pests.  They steal farmers' crops.  Sometimes they just leave a hole where a carrot used to be. Their tunnels can damage the farmers' tools and machines. But in Mount St. Helens, after the volcano, gophers' brought up rich, fertile soil from below to the dry, ash-covered mountain.  Seeds were able to sprout on these tunnels.  The tunnels helped the mountain recover after the explosion.  Gophers can do the same thing in farmers' fields.  They can make the farmer's soil more fertile.  What do you think? Hero or pest? Read my human's book: "Gopher to the Rescue, A Volcano Recovery Story" to find out more.

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These are pictures of the scientists in the cave where a new species, Homo Nadeli, was discovered by two cavers. So many bones! The scientific work is being led by Dr. Lee Berger of the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa. Terry's thanks to National Geographic for providing these pictures. This was a cover story in the October Nat Geo Magazine.
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