You probably have seen gophers at one time or the other, whether physically or on the internet. Gophers are small-sized rodents having a round body with soft fur; short neck and a flat head; fur-lined cheek pouches or “pockets” on either side of the mouth; thick whiskers; long, visible incisors; small ears and eyes; strong forequarters with long claws and a short tail. Much like moles, gophers live underground, creating a matrix of tunnels from just below the surface of the ground, to hundreds of feet below the ground. They are destructive diggers that can be a nightmare to homeowners; they use their sharp claws and teeth to dig tunnels and burrows.
The majority of gophers are found in North and Central America; the most widely spread species, known as the pocket gopher are commonly found in North America. Pocket gophers get their name from the fur-lined cheek pouches that they use to transport food to their burrows. They are most active during the spring and fall seasons and feed mainly on plants. If your property has moist soil and healthy grass, you could find yourself dealing with gophers.
Do gophers pose a serious threat to health? Yes they do! As a matter of fact it is advised that people should not try to touch or feed them because even their saliva can transmit diseases. Gophers rarely approach humans, but if you get bitten by them it could pose a threat to your health. Studies have shown that gophers have the capability of carrying and transmitting different diseases some of which are highlighted below.
Gophers have been discovered to be among the carriers of this virus which has a mortality rate of about 38%. This disease may prove to be fatal; it can be contracted through contact with the infected saliva, urine, and droppings of the carrier.
Some common symptoms of the disease include muscle pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, cough, fever, dizziness, headache, and gastrointestinal complications.
It’s a bacteria-based disease carried by gophers. The disease can be contracted by coming in contact with infected urine of carriers. The infected urine can survive for months and the carrier (in this case, gophers) may not show any symptoms. This disease affects both humans and animals.
Some common symptoms of the disease include muscle pain, nausea, chills, vomiting, fever, rash, headache, gastrointestinal complications, abdominal pain, red eyes, and jaundice.
Commonly referred to as “LCM”, it is a viral-based infectious disease that is rodent-borne. The gopher is one of the hosts (though not the main host).
Exposure to urine, saliva from gophers, droppings, and nesting materials may result in the transmission of this infection. Some common symptoms of the disease include: muscle pain, nausea, fatigue, chest pain, joint pain, poor appetite, fever, sore throat, headache, and vomiting will commonly occur 8-13 days following exposure.
One of the most dangerous among them with a high mortality rate, rabies is a viral-based disease commonly borne by gophers. This is a serious illness that negatively impacts the central nervous system. It then, ultimately, results in the swelling of the brain, and eventually, it can lead to death. The disease can spread to humans through the bite or saliva of an infected gopher. Shortly after exposure, people will experience flu-like symptoms including headache, sore throat, fever, and restlessness.
To prevent infection, avoid handling or feeding gophers, and when they become a health issue or create other problems, contact the authorities to remove the pests.