The crocodile family includes the largest of all living reptiles. They live in tropical parts of the world and have an ancient and mixed symbology and mythology associated with both destruction and birth. They are the devourers and mothers.
- Keynote: Primal strength and creation
Crocodiles in particular are associated with the Great Mother, for they are excellent mothers, a rarity among reptiles. The appearance of the crocodile indicates the presence of primal strength and creation, the mothering forces.
Although cold-blooded, crocodiles rarely let their body temperatures vary much. They come ashore at sunrise to bask in the sun and then they cool off in the water as the sun becomes hotter. They float low in the water, with little more than eyes and nostrils showing.
When crocodile appears, it heralds a time of balance within all environments within your life. The balance may come unexpectedly, but it will come as a result of your own efforts, strengths, and creativity. It is time to trust your instincts in what will work.
The Nile crocodile breeds when 5 to 10 years old and the males will fight for breeding territories. The female will dig a huge pit and can lay up to 90 eggs. After four months, the eggs hatch, and the mother crocodile takes the hatchlings in her mouth down to the water, guarding them from other predators.
When the crocodile appears, we should watch over and protect the things we give birth to for at least a four-month period. We may get assistance from others or assist others in some new births.
Our instincts will be very accurate and strong in regards to whom or what we can trust. Our creative energies are fertile now, along with practical applications. This is the time to trust what is right for us, our home, our children, and our endeavors. We have the opportunity to tap very primal creative energies. New birth and initiation are near, as is the strength necessary to accomplish them.
When the young crocodiles begin to develop within the eggs, they begin to speak. The mother hears them, answers them, and helps them to hatch. She then assists them to the water, carrying them in her mouth. If crocodile has appeared, it is time to heed our primal instincts or we may miss the calls of new creative opportunities.
An adult crocodile captures its prey by lying in wait near game trails and water holes. It then comes out of the water, seizing its prey in its powerful jaws, dragging the prey under water, trying to drown it or knocking it out with its whipping tail. The crocodile may even grip the prey’s body in its jaws, rolling over and over beneath the water, tearing into it.
Questions To Ask If Crocodile Shows Up
- Are we ignoring our instincts, our intuition?
- Are we missing creative opportunities?
- Are we being too emotional about what we have created?
- Are we trusting those we shouldn’t?
- Are we being too domineering?
- Are we unbalanced and too open?
The crocodile may indicate that we are not taking advantage of our opportunities or our impulses. We may also need to be careful of things that are hidden and unexpected, especially in environments that usually nourish us. There may be reason for distrust. If we are not careful, we may be in danger of being dragged into or under in some way.
The Mythic Crocodile
A dangerous creature with a strange and frightening appearance, wherever the crocodile appears in the world it has a rich set of meanings attached to it.
The creature that is feared is also often revered as a way of appeasing its collective spirit. The Egyptians even honored the crocodile with its own city, Crocodilopolis, where sacred, tamed crocodiles lived, treated like kings and decked in gold and jewels.
These Egyptians deified the crocodile as a god called Sobek, who had the body of a man and the head of the crocodile. Sobek keenly observed the ritual of the weighing of the souls after death, waiting for the ones that could not explain their actions, at which point he would eat them.
Because the crocodile can stay still for so long before striking very quickly, for some, such as the Chinese and the Cambodians, the crocodile symbolizes lightning. In Cambodia the word for the deity that governs the earth and water has the same name as that of the crocodile ~ Nak.
In many myths, the crocodile is one of the sacred creatures that helped create the planet. Because the animal is equally at home in water and on land, it makes sense that it would have been present when the earth was “born” from the sea, a legend that resonates in creation myths all over the world.
The crocodile, in its guise as the devourer, is synonymous with birth, which cannot happen without death. The significance of this aspect of the crocodile is enacted by the adolescent boys of Liberia as part of a rite of passage. Prior to the ritual circumcision that marks their entry into manhood, the boys are sent out into the forest to fend for themselves. This time in the forest can be as long as four years, during which time the boy is said to have died and been eaten by Poro, the spirit of the Great Crocodile. After a period of “gestion,” Poro spits the boy out, minus his foreskin.
It was once thought that crocodiles could be created by new combinations of matter, instead of by natural birth. The ancient roman historian, Pliny said that the crocodile was the only land animal which lacked the use of its tongue. It was believed to conceive by the ear and bring forth by the mouth.
An old story from Madagascar is that crocodiles and lizards come from the same nest or den by the side of a river. When the eggs are laid and numerous little ones are crawling about, the crocodile comes out of the water and beats the ground with its tail so as to frighten the young ones. Some take to water, and others to land. The ones that go to land never grow any bigger and remain as lizards, but those in the water grow to be crocodiles.
When walking by river, do not let your shadow fall on water, lest a crocodile seize it (soul), and draw you in.
It is widely believed that it is unlucky to kill a crocodile. If you kill a crocodile you will soon die. Seeing a crocodile was considered an evil omen, and in some areas crocodiles were considered as being the embodiment of an evil spirit. Interestingly, it was also believed that a person devoured by a crocodile, went to a place of perpetual happiness.
The liver and entrails of a crocodile are supposed to be most powerful charms, and whoever becomes possessed of them can cause the death of any man he pleases. For that reason, killing a crocodile was a very heinous crime in West Africa.
Dreaming About Crocodiles
To see a crocodile in your dream foretells a new beginning or changes in your waking life. This dream can also indicate danger in some way. The crocodile within your dream can highlight your intuition, your spiritual insights, and the spiritual steps you need to take in the forthcoming future.
Independence is important to you, and this dream shows it is time to claim it back.
This dream may also indicate that you need to improve or encourage financial security. No matter how well off you are, money just seems to be difficult to obtain. According to 1930’s dream dictionaries, a dream of seeing a crocodile reflects how you feel inside about others.
The crocodile is consistently related to the soul. Spiritually, the dream represents a coming together of power and intelligence. When we are affected by negative energies caused by difficult people, situations or even stalkers the dream normally arises.
- If in your dream you are trying to kill or harm the crocodile then this dream is associated with your intelligence.
- To dream of shooting a crocodile indicates the need to take intellectual tests – you maybe surprised!
- Dreaming of swimming with a crocodile connects us with our necessity for basic emotional, physical and material needs.
To be swimming with more than one crocodile signifies that one may be shafted by hope and faith. As with many other interpretations of reptiles, this dream represents the ultimate feminine wisdom, and indistinct feelings, as well as fertility. The crocodile can be the symbol of the great mother.
Because of its association with religion, the crocodile can mean that negative aspects signify a danger which will shortly come into your life. The crocodile might imply deceit or someone who will cross you! Don’t trust anyone when this symbol appears in a dream.
- If the crocodile chased you in a dream it can suggest your fears in life.
- If the crocodile opened the jaw of his mouth in the dream it indicates something is jammed or stuck in waking life.
- If the crocodile was deformed, this indicates your performance needs to develop some masculine traits.
- Dreams of seeing a crocodile in a zoo or in captivity means that you have access to the particular characteristics which make you unique.
- If you visit a jungle and see a crocodile, this dream signifies there is a new beginning on the horizon.
- If you dream that the crocodile was tamed, it means that you have acquired influence and lots of power.
- If the crocodile is on a lake, and the dream seems beautiful, it means that you will have love in your life.
- To be bitten by this animal denotes that you need to make sure you stop worrying, as things will sort themselves out.
- A large (massive) crocodile appearing in a dream indicates that you cannot win no matter what happens – unless you kill it.
- It denotes possible worries and the failure of a project if you are eaten by a crocodile in the dream.
- If a crocodile is eating someone in the dream, it can mean that an untrustworthy person will create problems for you.
- If you hunted a crocodile this denotes spiritual acceptance.
- For the crocodile to be swimming in a dream is connected to water indicates that you have the emotions and energy to succeed in life.
The crocodile chasing you or hunting you in a dream illustrates that you are going to discover many attributes about yourself on a psychic level. The end result of the dream is equally important. If the crocodile kills or bites you after chasing you then this indicates that you’re going to try to move beyond your comfort zone, it can also signify somebody’s going to be rather deceitful.
To see the crocodile’s teeth in a dream indicates somebody is going to be consulting in the future. Is also connected to our physical attributes of life. The crocodile influences us to think and challenge about how we grow in life. Try to connect with other people in order to think outside the box.
Killing a crocodile in a dream is great luck, it means your worries are over. This is a positive dream. It indicates that you will encounter great luck – beyond your dreams. Killing crocodile can also represent persistent actions in the future. It may be that you’re trying to work towards gaining wealth all you’re looking at clinging to projects that you know will be a success. Rallying for success is also associated with such a dream. If you kill the crocodile in the dream then this can indicate that you are going to be committed to the causes which you believe in life. To kill the crocodile by shooting the animal illustrates that you have the strength and the strong interest in uncovering successful business opportunities.
To kill the crocodile in your dream may also mean that you hold angry feelings inside of you. If you do not kill the crocodile, then this dream may be unfavorable or a warning to be cautious.
If you decide not to attack the animal, then seeing this creature is associated with the capability to survive in difficult situations. You may need to understand social instincts in order to secure your desires. The main negative potential is associated with any type of attack.
To see baby crocodiles in the dream is associated with our strong interest in protecting our young. If you are a parent it is not uncommon to see baby crocodiles in your dream. It indicates that there is somewhat an immature person who surrounds you in daily life – It could be a child alternatively a partner or family member that needs support. You are very committed to your family you believe in giving and also receiving. Baby crocodiles can also crop up when you feel that you are not necessarily supported by immediate family.
If you see the crocodile open its jaws in a dream, you need to hold yourself responsible. We generally have such a dream when we are reaching higher levels of consciousness, in some dreams the crocodile could bite you and you wake up startled or even in deep fear. The actual details of the dream are equally important.
Where did the crocodile bite you?
- If the crocodile bit you on the leg then this indicates that you are going to find blockages in regards to moving forward in a business matter.
- If the crocodile bit you on the hand then this is related to work and can indicate some delay or co-workers who are going to be dishonest in the future.
If a crocodile is trying to bite you in the dream then this indicates that you have a desire to meet somebody that is going to treat you right. The crocodile biting you indicates that somebody is going to use you or alternatively give you displeasure. On the long road to happiness we often encounter displeasure. We are deceived by people who are close to us in life. This could indicate a disappointment or alternatively and an attraction towards somebody of the opposite sex.
The size of the crocodile biting you is also equally important. The bigger the crocodile the more important the dream is on a subconscious level. You may capture moments where the crocodile is opening its mouth and snapping at you during the dream. This can indicate snappy attitudes, being annoyed or possibly ostracism.
For a crocodile to run away from you during the dream state indicates you’re going to overcome any sudden change or phases in life. You will need to study but in the end you will succeed. If however, the crocodile itself is chasing you during the dream then you are trying to move away from somebody who is dishonest. Obviously, all the dream details are also equally important to interpret. In any case, to see a crocodile chasing you hunting you down illustrates an incredibly difficult task with somebody who is deceitful.
If the crocodile in your dream is small, perhaps you are feeling guilty about something in waking life. A small crocodile normally appears when you have not forgiven somebody. Forgiveness is always an option in life, if not there when going to be shadowed by bitterness doubt and distressed. A small crocodile indicates a minor problem in life which you can overcome. It can also symbolize betrayal, not only of ourselves but also the people that we care about greatly.
To see a number of crocodiles in a dream illustrates that there are multiple threats in the future. You might be desperate in order to break free from job that does not give you satisfaction. If the crocodiles were circling you in a dream, especially if you are in water in this indicates a feeling of congeniality. To be attacked by multiple crocodiles indicates that you should never give up.
More Crocodile Dream Meanings
In a negative way, the crocodile demonstrates wasted potential. Think of it as a human associated with triggering control issues. The crocodile is true to its nature, and there is an element of trying to work towards goals.
You need good judgment about how to move forward in a work situation. Thinking and planning is important in your life, and you may soon become obsessed with seeking answers to difficult questions, in order to understand a greater awareness and ease your life.
It is important to take any energy released over the next two months and use it to your advantage. There may be some conflict between the masculine attributes and the female ones, but it is important to maintain some kind of balance between the two. This dream is often connected to your feelings. As time passes, you recognize familiar aspects of what this dream means, and it is important to develop your personality coupled with strong sense of family values.
Someone that is in your circle of friends or family is not acting in a correct manner. You will recognize that the person is an enemy, and he or she seeks to trick you into thinking that you are a friend.
To have this dream also means the release of the power in us called Jungian, an archetype known as the ‘Shadow.’ This is a dark power associated with enemies and conspiracies. This shadow casts itself as the heroic victim (martyr) of dark and stupendous forces. The shadow inside us is dangerous.
- Have you been having bad thoughts?
- Are you struggling to come to terms with a situation?
This dream often signifies a warning. It may also signify that you have been having some worrying times recently. The hidden features of seeing this in your dream is that you are looking to solve a problem in life, you yearn the freedom of expression, you have the strength to challenge anything and the power for success.
It can also suggest that you have the ability to work towards something that will become a success – materially. Crocodiles are associated with a work situation, they are spiritually about gaining satisfaction in life. Compassion and talent are often important in daily life when a crocodile appears in one’s dream. You need to be somewhat passionate in life.
The crocodile tends to be decisive in eating its prey and is connected to the way we gain promotion at work. Remember that you need to fight in order to win.
Every dream can be connected to our own reality. If, in a dream we find ourselves seeing a crocodile, there are many different lessons that we can learn. There are two key dream states that we can encounter, lucid dreaming and prophetic. If you had a dream of a crocodile and you feel that you’ve taken an active involvement in the dream, even influenced a dream in some way it indicates that you have the opportunity to manage a deceitful person in the waking life.
The omen of the crocodile dream suggests dishonesty and deceit, as well as the inner ability to overcome any obstacles. It is important to try to use your unconsciousness mind to understand the real problems in waking life. To see a crocodile in a dream and yourself as the third person, or to view the event as if it is on television indicates that you have the hidden intuition to look beyond people’s personality.
The crocodile is associated with storing your own power and energy, in the case where you see a crocodile chasing you during a dream, this denotes that your goals will be achieved, moreover this dream is more than just an illusion it is a specific call to action in waking life. If you are successfully able to perform actions in the dream to change the event of the dream then seen a crocodile can be an emotionally powerful experience.
Old Fashioned Crocodile Cures:
- Epilepsy: Caelius Aurelianus prescribed crocodile’s dung against epilepsy.
- Eye problems: Crocodile blood.
- Eye sickness (ositananana): Crocodile skin is used for eye-sickness. Piece of skin is burned and at the same time another piece is put in water, patient inhales smoke from burned skin. Ashes then are put in water and liquid ribbed into patient’s eyes.
- Hair growth: Rubbing crocodile dung on the head will make hair grow.
- Quartan fever: Democritus also states that a quartan fever is effectually cured by attaching a crocodile’s heart to the body with the wool of a black sheep without a speck of any other color, due care being taken that the sheep was the first lamb weaned by the dam.
- Scorpion’s antidote: Crocodile (!?!)
- Snake bite: Pulverized crocodile teeth used for snake bite. Also crocodile blood.
- Teeth and teething: If a child wears a crocodile’s tooth around its neck. This helps the teeth to come through, and guarantees their being strong.
- Whooping cough: In Malabar, a bone of a crocodile was suspended about the neck to cure whooping cough.
Wounds: Fried crocodile meat can be used to dress wounds.
The image of the crocodile as a dishonest trickster is expressed perfectly in the notion of “crocodile tears,” the hypocritical tears that the crocodile is said to shed for its victims.
“Crocodile tears” has become proverbial in speaking of people who cry without feeling any pain, or who feign tears. This comes from old stories that portray the crocodile as the most deceitful of animals. It will treacherously weep over a man’s head when it has devoured the body, and then will eat up the head too.
It is also said these tears turn to jewels to lure further human prey. This belief goes one step further with the idea that crocodiles moan and sigh like persons in distress, to allure travelers and make them their prey.
Butterflies have been known to drink crocodile tears. Scientists think it’s because the tears contain salt and other minerals.
The Kachikally Sacred Crocodile Pool
I found this really fun article about witches, crocodiles, and fertility rituals on a travel site, and had to share it here. Billed as the world’s most dangerous tourist attraction, the concept is that stroking a crocodile makes a person extremely fertile. Here’s the article:
According to one version of the local legend, the story of the Kachikally Sacred Crocodile Pool involves a cunning — but good natured — witch.
One day the witch was apparently crying by a well when a stranger came along. Claiming that her children had fallen down, she asked the man to help. The man climbed down to find them, searched hard but saw no trace.
He regretfully told the bawling lady this, to which she replied that she hadn’t lost her children after all. She was just testing to see whether the man had a good heart. As a reward, she gifted him the supposedly magical waters of the pool. Anyone who bathed in them would become fertile and as proof they were magical, she would fill it with crocodiles that would never bite anyone.
Well that’s alright then. Perfectly safe.
Try telling yourself “it’s perfectly safe” as the scruffy-looking guide by the poolside hut leads you over to Charley. Charley is a two-metre-long Nile crocodile and he is probably not a vegetarian. It seems rather difficult to believe that he is placid enough to enjoy being constantly manhandled by a stream of petrified tourists, but the guide insists that Charley has never attacked anyone.
The Steve Irwin moment
For those stupid enough to believe him, the Steve Irwin moment follows: a ginger walk-up to Charlie. The guide puts his hands on the lazy croc’s back and encourages you to do the same. The feel is rather harder than expected, but that’s probably not your major concern. Especially when he encourages you to start lifting Charley’s back legs.
Surely he’s not going to stand for this sort of manhandling much longer? He’ll turn round one of these days and just lash out at the nearest person. And when the guide surreptitiously buggers off, that nearest person will be you. All alone with a big croc, caressing his back like a grinning imbecile.
Don’t Touch This Crocodiles:
In truth, the scariest part isn’t touching Charley himself — it’s his not-so-little friends around him. There are well over 100 of them in and around the pool. It’s a fluorescent green color, so it’s not possible to see into the water for the crocs that could leap out at any moment.
More worrying are the ones lounging around on the banks in very close proximity to Charley. There’s no fence and surely they aren’t all friendly? Indeed, one has a (somewhat ungrammatical) sign by it saying:
Don’t Touch This Crocodiles.
All praise the witch:
Thankfully, the witch’s magic spell appears to work. Thousands of people visit the Kachikally Sacred Crocodile Pool every year — the tourists to stroke Charley and the locals to become extra-fertile.
Given that no-one has been attacked and many people have become pregnant soon after splashing themselves with the water, there may be something in the superstition after all.
Crocodile vs Alligator
Many people are unaware that there’s a difference between alligators and crocodiles and use both terms interchangeably to describe any large water-dwelling lizard with big teeth. What they don’t realize is that, despite some similarities, the two reptiles don’t look or behave the same. They also belong to different biological families.
8 ways to tell alligators and crocodiles apart:
- Shape of the snout. The crocodile’s snout is pointed and V-shaped, and the alligator’s is wide and U-shaped.
- Location. Alligators are only found in parts of the US and China, whereas crocodiles can be found across the world.
- Habitat. Crocodiles prefer water that is more saline or salty than the alligator’s preferred freshwater habitat.
- Toothy grin. Crocodiles can’t hide their teeth, but alligators’ teeth are sometimes hidden when their mouths are closed.
- Size. A full-grown crocodile will likely be several feet longer than an adult alligator.
- Color. Crocodiles are generally lighter in color than alligators.
- Speed. On land and in water, crocodiles are usually slower than alligators.
- Behavior. In terms of aggression, an alligator might seem tame compared to a crocodile.
Once you understand the differences, it is actually pretty easy to tell them apart.
Gophers live in colonies and understand the meaning of family and trusting in others. They have a very cool communication between them, which includes speaking in clicks and whistles, as well as with a special ultrasonic whistle for family members.
As a being that lives underground, they are said to be “Secrets of Life” Keepers. They are also known to be Masters of “As above, so below”. They live underground in tunnels that intersect and connect, keeping them safe underground for extended periods of time. But whether life is above ground, or below it, or even in the water, their series of tunnels demonstrate how everything is connected, even though it may be hidden from us.
Gopher is a master at knowing how to dig and uncover hidden truths and meanings and she/he shares this gift with you. Gophers have poor eyesight (in part because of spending a lot of time underground in the dark, and because they are small) so they will keep watch on the tallest point of land in order to be able to see movement so they can warn their colony.
And of course, they are very adept to feeling vibrations in the ground, which is usually why we don’t see them often, as they have advance warning of oncoming visitors. Gopher has beautiful attributes and not to be seen as a pest like many do, as they try to run them off, or worse, from their homes, especially because they love our gardens too.
They feed from their tunnels, pulling down plants and run around with ease and speed, able to jump down small holes instantly. But rather than see them as a nuisance, it would be of more benefit and compassion to observe the Gopher’s wisdom and get more acquainted with what they have to share.
Gopher showing up in your life is asking you to feel all around you and to be present with the vibrations of energy you pick up, are sensing, and intuiting. Their medicine teaches you how to attune yourself to these spiritual and physical vibrations and sensations, as well as teaches abilities to listen, feel, and heighten your intuition to be able to tune into the guidance of direction your innate instincts are leading you to. Then to be do the energy work that what you are feeling is presenting to you.
They bring a message of looking to your own growth process and observing where you plant your seeds, and ask you to take responsibility for your actions instead of adopting a victim role and blaming others. Gopher also helps us develop the skill of uncovering hidden truths and meanings and all that lies beneath a situation, which would include our shadow parts.
He/she also shows us how to listen to and align with perfect timing to take of the many choices available and how those choices are interconnected. Perhaps it is time to “dig” with a sense of purpose and direction or perhaps it is time to utilize your resources that you have before you – because you are more prepared than you realize, but just haven’t trusted yourself enough to just go for it – get it….”go pher” it. 🙂
So our amazing little Gopher friends shows you how to maneuver with purpose and keep the balance of instincts in tune with the heartbeat of our beautiful Earth. Gopher offers us wisdom of deeper truths that are awaiting us to pay attention to and then to follow their flow.
Native American Gopher Mythology
Gophers are considered to be messengers of the underworld by many western tribes, and are sometimes seen as a symbol of death. In some Shoshone and Paiute traditions, gophers were considered medicine animals who could cause or cure sickness in people, and birth defects were said to be the result of pregnant women eating vegetables a gopher had touched.
In Northern California tribes, a gopher digging near a family’s home is thought to be an omen of illness or death; in the Karuk tribe, it was considered bad luck to kill or eat gophers. In Klamath and Modoc mythology, Gopher was the younger brother of the Creator and played a role in the tribal creation myth. Gophers sometimes appear as healers or wise advisors in Native folklore.
Gophers are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Gopher Clans include the Hopi tribe (whose Gopher Clan was named Mui-wungwa) and the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico.
Dreaming About Gophers
To see a gopher in your dream means that you are being used and manipulated by others out of survival needs. Below are more gopher related dream interpretations in various contexts.
- Dream About Hitting Gopher
To hit or beat a gopher in the dream, suggests that you should “go for it”. Take initiative and act now to grab that fleeting chance.
- Dream About Gophers Digging
Dreaming about gophers digging in and out of places, reflects the various path that you could take in the near future. These choices are all interconnected and sometimes you simply have to make a judgment call on the best path.
- Dream About Gopher Tunnel
Seeing gophers tunnels signifies the need to maneuver your path while using the balance of your instincts. Always keep your options open and leave yourself with more diverse entrances and exits is key to your survival.
- Dream About Gopher Hiding
To dream about gopher hiding away in its tunnel, represents how you feel unnoticed by others, may it be the good or the bad that you do. The dream suggests that you may need to find ways to stand up for yourself.
- Dream About Catching and Baiting Gopher
Dreaming about setting up traps to try and bait catch gopher, refers to your skill at uncovering hidden truths and meanings. Try to look beneath a situation and figure out the true cause, you will only be able to solve your problems at hand by digging a little deeper and be patient.
- Dream About Gopher Mounds
To see gopher mounds in the dream, represents that you should better utilize the resources you have before you. You might be using resources or assets behind other people’s back. Be careful about the evidences or you would be caught red handed and found guilty.
- Dream About Gopher Destroying Your Garden
Dreaming about your beautiful garden being destroyed or eaten by a gopher, suggests that an employee, contractor, or someone that you work with may be stealing behind your back. However, this generally because you may be underpaying or taking advantage of those whom you work with. They may be forced to take unethical rebates or kickbacks in order to survive.
Gophers vs Groundhogs
Despite their similar appearances and burrowing habits, groundhogs and gophers don’t have a whole lot in common—they don’t even belong to the same family. For example, gophers belong to the family Geomyidae, a group that includes pocket gophers (sometimes referred to as “true” gophers), kangaroo rats, and pocket mice.
Groundhogs, meanwhile, are members of the Sciuridae (meaning shadow-tail) family and belong to the genus Marmota. Marmots are diurnal ground squirrels, Daniel Blumstein, a UCLA biologist and marmot expert, tells Mental Floss. “There are 15 species of marmot, and groundhogs are one of them,” he explains.
Science aside, there are plenty of other visible differences between the two animals. Gophers, for example, have hairless tails, protruding yellow or brownish teeth, and fur-lined cheek pockets for storing food—all traits that make them different from groundhogs. The feet of gophers are often pink, while groundhogs have brown or black feet. And while the tiny gopher tends to weigh around two or so pounds, groundhogs can grow to around 13 pounds.
While both types of rodent eat mostly vegetation, gophers prefer roots and tubers (much to the dismay of gardeners trying to plant new specimens), while groundhogs like vegetation and fruits. This means that the former animals rarely emerge from their burrows, while the latter are more commonly seen out and about.
Groundhogs “have burrows underground they use for safety, and they hibernate in their burrows,” Blumstein says. “They’re active during the day above ground, eating a variety of plants and running back to their burrows to safety. If it’s too hot, they’ll go back into their burrow. If the weather gets crappy, they’ll go back into their burrow during the day as well.”
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that gophers are the more reclusive of the two, as groundhogs famously hibernate during the winter. Gophers, on the other hand, remain active—and wreck lawns—year-round.
“What’s really interesting is if you go to a place where there’s gophers, in the spring, what you’ll see are what is called eskers,” or winding mounds of soil, Blumstein says. “Basically, they dig all winter long through the earth, but then they tunnel through snow, and they leave dirt in these snow tunnels.”
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