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Meditations on a pocket gopher

Posted by on August 26, 2011

The pocket gopher is a solitary creature. It does not even like other pocket gophers. If two pocket gophers encounter one another, they frequently fight to the death.

So how are there still pocket gophers in the world? Is there some kind of underground lab where pocket gophers are cloning themselves? Nope. As you might expect, dating amongst pocket gophers is fraught with peril. A male pocket gopher, when he begins to feel the urge, will dig to the burrow of a female pocket gopher and crawl in there hoping beyond hope that she is also in the mood and not about to claw his face off. As soon as they finish, assuming they get that far — the phrase “getting lucky” has a rich meaning amongst pocket gophers, where “getting unlucky” means your would-be-girlfriend murders you with her teeth — both parties return to their isolated existence, seldom even venturing above ground.

Except for mating, these solitary rodents do not socialize, says my book Wild Animals of North America. No lunch with friends, no New Year’s Eve parties, no gossipy little phone calls with your mom, no Christmas morning pastry-fest with your husband. Just a few brief encounters and then it’s you and your thoughts, alone together, forever. Can you imagine? It gives me a whole new appreciation for the rich (some may say over-scheduled) social life Gene and I have got going on.

The solitary pocket gopher.

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