Tule Ponds at Tyson

Thomomys bottae

Long claws on the forefeet and heavy shoulder muscles make gophers superb diggers. They carry food in fur-lined pouches on either side of their mouth.  A furry membrane behind the incisors keeps dirt out of the mouth while the gopher is digging. The earth mounds that are pushed out during the gophersí search for food have a distinct earthen plug at the center or the side.  Gophers plow the land and bring tons of soil to the surface each year, stimulating plants to grow larger and healthier. Pocket gophers are solitary except during the breeding season and usually expel intruders from their burrow system.   However, abandoned gopher burrows often provide essential refuge for a variety of other animals. Gophers are prey for hawks, owls, fox, cats and snakes.

Western Gray squirrel 
Sciurus griseus 

The western gray squirrel is silver gray with white undersides.  It has a characteristic long bushy tail.  The gray squirrel lives for 7 to 8 years.  It mainly eats seeds, but known to eat berries, fungus, bark, sap, and insects.  It can  live in hollow trees or nests.

Ondatra zibethicus

This aquatic rodent lives in marsh environments.  They are excellent swimmers and can stay under water for more than 15 minutes at a time.  Their houses are made of bulrushes, reeds, and packed mud.  There are separate sleeping platforms for each member of the family.  They also build dens in stream banks with the entrance underwater. They eat cattails, bulrush, crayfish, and fish.  Their total body length is about 30 cm.  The muskratís tail is flat and scaly up to 20 cm long  It has a large head, small ears, short legs, and webbed feet.

Didelphis marsupialis

This is the only North American marsupial or pouched mammal, It has a pointed stout, grayish fur, a  long hairless rat-like tail.  There may be up to 14 young in a litter.  At birth, an entire litter could fit in a teaspoon!  They remain in their motherís pouch for about 2 months.  Later they travel on her back with their tails grasping hers.

Procyon lotor

The raccoon has a black mask over its eyes and a  bushy tail with 4-10 black rings.  Its forepaws resemble slender human hands with 5 toes.  The raccoon is omnivorous and feeds on crayfish in the creek as well as blackberries.  


Shrews are insect eaters.  They are very small and  need to eat frequently because of their  high metabolic rate.  The species most likely include the Ornate Shrew  (Sorex ornatus) and the Trowbridge Shrew  (Sorex trowbridgei).

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