Thursday, February 18, 2016

P is for Pocket Gopher

For the last two days, I wondered what to write for this post.. I mean, P can stand for many things but none of them seemed right.  Last night, my P kinda fell into my lap, or at least in my  headlight high beams.

Being that I live in the desert, rain not a normal occurrence for us, especially in winter but this El Nino has changed things up and California has been getting lots of the much needed rain.  Last night, it was not only rainy but cold, at 8:30 it was 47* and still falling when my husband and I decided to head over to the shoppette (which is like a gas station) on base to grab something to snack on.  While driving home, we saw what we can only describe as "something" in the middle of the road, soaked to the bone, half frozen and barely moving.    All we could tell was that it was a rodent of some variety with huge digging claws on it's front feet but honestly, that was about it  As it's fur was so wet we couldn't see it's eyes and originally assumed it was a mole of some sort. 

Unfortunately, we didn't have any work gloves or towels in the car but we did locate a Storm Trooper Halloween costume left in the back when we went to see Star Wars so we used that to carefully scoop the critter up and wrap him up securely.  It didn't move other than it's nose smelling and twitching.  We knew that with it in the condition that it was in,  it was as good as dead as either a coyote or a bobcat would quickly make a dinner out of it and leaving it in the road would result in a squished rodent.

Once in the house, we informed the kids that the critter was wild, we didn't know what it was but that we were going to bring it in the house temporarily to allow it to warm up.  We set the ground rules that the kids were not to touch it as it had some VERY large teeth and we placed the miserable creature in a small glass terrarium that we had.  As the costume had absorbed some of the wetness, we could now see that the creature had eyes, eliminating our original mole idea and we had no clue what it was.

A search on Google for "Mojave Desert Rodents" led us to a creature called a Botta's Pocket Gopher.  I had never heard of a pocket gopher before.  Honestly, my only real introductions to gophers was the whistling one on Winnie the Pooh.     Our wet visitor had been identified.  We allowed it to rest and we all went to sleep.

This morning, our rescue looks much better and is back to, what I assume, is his old self.  

Dried and warm, he's much more active and is moving around as one would expect a gopher to do..  He did a great job during the night of completely destroying the foam backing of the terrarium to make himself an area to dig around and burrow into.     Unfortunately, it's only 51 degrees outside right now and I really hate to let him go with it being so cold but I know he's ready to be on his way promptly..  Charles is about to release him in the field across from our house (no gophers in our yard, thank you).   

The really cool thing about this experience is that the kids and I have been talking about Rodents these last few weeks in school and we will be actually discussing pocket gophers in the next two weeks.  So the kids have gotten to actually observe a real life pocket gopher in a safe way.  

I also think it's a great lesson for them in regards to taking care of nature.  They have seen that we rescued this animal as a way to help it but that it is not a pet. It was a temporary visitor to our home and it goes back to the wild now that it can safely be released.    Hopefully, it will also help them develop a respect and a feeling of empathy for creatures, especially when we see so many videos today of people abusing animals.   ( I should mention that this gopher wasn't the only thing we rescued - my husband also helped out a few toads frozen on the road as well.. haha)

This blog post is being linked up with the "Blogging Through the Alphabet" linkup hosted by Through the Calm and Through the Storm and  Adventures with Jude .   
Be sure to check out both of their blogs and link yours up as well :)

Blogging Through the Alphabet” style=


  1. He is so cute! I think it's wonderful that you helped this little guy out!

  2. What a wonderful learning experience! It's always neat when real life ties in to homeschool.


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