Difference Between Chipmunk and Gopher

The main difference between chipmunk and gopher is that chipmunk is a slim animal with black strips whereas gopher is comparatively large and has a stockier body with black, brown or gray color fur. Further, chipmunk belongs to the family Sciuridae while gopher belongs to the family Geomyidae.  

Chipmunk and gopher are burrowing rodents that dig holes in the ground. Chipmunk creates a small hole in the entrance of the burrow while gopher creates a honeycomb-like hole pattern in a waffle. Moreover, there are many other differences between chipmunk and gopher, which are explained in this article.

Key Areas Covered 

1. Chipmunk
     – Definition, Characteristics, Behavior
2. Gopher
    – Definition, Characteristics, Behavior  
3. What are the Similarities Between Chipmunk and Gopher
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Chipmunk and Gopher
      – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Behavior, Burrows, Chipmunk, Diet, Fur Color, Gopher, Rodent

Difference Between Chipmunk and Gopher - Comparison Summary

Chipmunk – Definition, Characteristics, Behavior

Chipmunk is a small, stripped rodent native to North America and Asia. The strips can be found in the head, neck, back, and the tail. Chipmunk is a squirrel-type animal. In addition to strips, stubby legs and bushy tails are its characteristic features. Some may have brown or white color strips as well. The biggest chipmunk is the Eastern chipmunk. Around 25 species of chipmunk have been identified. Chipmunks create burrows that can be up to 10-30 feet long. 

Difference Between Chipmunk and Gopher

Figure 1: Tamias minimus

Chipmunks are social animals that are most active at dark and dawn. They are omnivores and feed on seeds, grains, nuts, berries, and mushrooms. They also eat baby birds, frogs, insects, and bird eggs. Chipmunks are hibernators and they stuff extra food in the cheek pouches and store in their home rather than storing fat around the body as bears do. During the period of hibernation, they look dead and their heartbeat drops from 350 to 4 beats per minute. Body temperature drops from 94 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They mate in the spring.  

Gopher – Definition, Characteristics, Behavior

A gopher is a small, furry rodent found in North and Central America. It has fur-lined cheek pockets; thereby it is called the pocket gopher. Gophers have small eyes and ears. They have no distinct neck. The body of gophers is built for digging. The burrows are 200-2,000 square feet large and the chambers for food storage are 6 feet deep. 

Main Difference - Chipmunk and Gopher

Figure 2: Botta’s Pocket Gopher (Thomomys bottae)

Gophers are active during the day. They are fossorial and dig shallow tunnels for forages. Also, they eat, sleep, and have their babies underground. Though gophers are not social animals, they share their burrows with other creatures. They are herbivores interested in roots and tubers. Sometimes, they eat the top of the small plants.  

Similarities Between Chipmunk and Gopher 

  • Chipmunk and gopher are rodents that dig holes in the ground. 
  • They are mammals.
  • Both are pests that are destructive. 
  • Both have cheek pouches to store food. 
  • Their gestation period is around a month. 

Difference Between Chipmunk and Gopher 


Chipmunk: A burrowing ground squirrel with cheek pouches and light and dark strips

Gopher:  A burrowing rodent with fur-lined pouches on the outside of the cheeks 


Chipmunk: Sciuridae 

Gopher: Geomyidae 


Chipmunk: 25 

Gopher: 34 

Found in 

Chipmunk: North America and North Eurasia

Gopher: North and Central America 


Chipmunk: During dark and dawn 

Gopher: During the day 


Chipmunk: Hibernates in winter

Gopher: Active throughout the year


Chipmunk: Slim 

Gopher: Stockier 

Fur Color 

Chipmunk: Brown with black strips 

Gopher: Black, brown or gray 


Chipmunk: Siberian chipmunk: 50-150 g; long-eared chipmunk: 81-100 g 

Gopher: Botta’s pocket gopher: 120 g; plains pocket gopher 200 g 


Chipmunk: Siberian chipmunk: 18-25 cm; long-eared chipmunk 23-24 cm 

Gopher: Botta’s pocket gopher: 16 cm; plains pocket gopher 18 cm 


Chipmunk: Digs a small hole 

Gopher: A honeycomb-like hole pattern in a waffle


Chipmunk: Vocal animals that make high-pitched chirps 

Gopher: Rarely make sounds 


Chipmunk: Omnivores 

Gopher: Herbivores 


Chipmunk: Social animals 

Gopher: Lives alone but, share their burrows with other creatures 

Give birth 

Chipmunk: One or two times per year; 2-8 young at a time  

Gopher: Three times per year; 5-6 young at a time 


Chipmunk is a small rodent with strips. Gopher is stockier. Both rodents create burrows to sleep and store food. Chipmunk is a hibernator. Gopher digs for forage. The main difference between chipmunk and gopher is the structure of the body and their behavior. 


1. Bradford, Alina. “Chipmunk Facts.” LiveScience, Purch, 9 June 2015, Available Here
2. “Facts About Gophers | Gopher Facts | Havahart®.” Havahart, Available Here

Image Courtesy:

1. “Tamias minimus” By Phil Armitage (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Botta’s Pocket Gopher (Thomomys bottae)” By Chuck Abbe (CC BY 2.0) via flickr

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

Leave a Reply