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Chipmunk vs. Gopher: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 22, 2023
Chipmunks are small, striped rodents of the squirrel family, while gophers are burrowing rodents known for their extensive tunnel systems.

Key Differences

Chipmunks are small rodents that are part of the squirrel family, Sciuridae. They're easily identified by the distinctive stripes that run along their backs and faces. Gophers, on the other hand, belong to the family Geomyidae and are not squirrels. They have stout bodies and short, sturdy legs adapted for digging.
Both chipmunk and gopher are renowned diggers, but for different reasons. Chipmunks dig burrows primarily for shelter and as a place to store food. Gophers are more industrious with their digging, creating complex tunnel systems that they use for all aspects of their life, from finding food to hiding from predators.
When observing a chipmunk, one would notice that they have a more elongated, sleek body shape, while gophers have a more compact and robust physique. Additionally, chipmunks have large, round eyes and facial stripes, whereas gophers have small eyes and no stripes on their face.
The habitats of chipmunks and gophers also differ. While both can be found in North America, chipmunks are often seen in wooded areas, gardens, and parks. Gophers prefer open grasslands and cultivated fields where they can easily dig their tunnels. They're often considered pests by farmers due to the damage they cause to crops.
It's essential to recognize that while both chipmunks and gophers are rodents, they belong to different families within the rodent order. The behavior, appearance, and habitats of chipmunks and gophers make them distinct from one another, even though they share some similarities.

Comparison Chart


Sciuridae (squirrel family)

Physical Appearance

Striped, elongated body
Stout body, no stripes

Eye Size

Large, round eyes
Small eyes

Primary Habitats

Wooded areas, gardens, parks
Open grasslands, cultivated fields

Purpose of Burrows

Shelter and food storage
Comprehensive living, including food search

Chipmunk and Gopher Definitions


A North American ground squirrel with cheek pouches.
The chipmunk used its cheek pouches to gather and transport food back to its burrow.


A North American rodent with large, fur-lined cheek pouches.
The gopher uses its cheek pouches to transport food.


A rodent recognized by its alternating dark and light stripes.
The chipmunk's stripes help it blend into the forest floor.


A burrowing rodent known for creating extensive tunnels.
The gopher's tunnel system can be quite intricate and expansive.


A small, striped rodent of the squirrel family.
The chipmunk darted across the trail with its cheeks full of seeds.


A mammal with a stout body and sharp claws for digging.
The gopher's physique is well-suited to its burrowing lifestyle.


A burrowing mammal known for its chirping calls.
I heard the chipmunk's distinctive chirp while hiking in the woods.


A rodent often considered a pest in cultivated areas.
Farmers often try to deter gophers from their fields due to crop damage.


An agile and active squirrel species often found in wooded areas.
It's common to see a chipmunk scampering around trees and logs.


A ground-dwelling rodent, distinct from the tree squirrels.
Unlike squirrels, a gopher spends much of its time underground.


Any of several small striped rodents of the genus Tamias, chiefly of North America.


Any of various short-tailed, burrowing rodents of the family Geomyidae of North America, having fur-lined external cheek pouches. Also called pocket gopher.


Why are gophers often seen as pests?

Gophers are seen as pests because they damage crops and fields with their tunneling activities.

Which animal has a more elongated body shape?

The chipmunk has a more elongated body shape.

Are gophers a type of squirrel?

No, gophers are not squirrels; they belong to the family Geomyidae.

Which rodent is more likely to be found in wooded areas?

Chipmunks are more likely to be found in wooded areas.

Which animal is known for its distinctive stripes?

The chipmunk is known for its distinctive stripes.

Do both chipmunks and gophers burrow?

Yes, both chipmunks and gophers are burrowing animals, but their reasons and burrow structures differ.

What family does the chipmunk belong to?

The chipmunk belongs to the squirrel family, Sciuridae.

How do gophers primarily find their food?

Gophers primarily find food underground by digging and eating roots and plants they encounter.

What is the primary purpose of a chipmunk's cheek pouches?

A chipmunk's cheek pouches are used to gather and transport food.

Which animal is better adapted to a burrowing lifestyle?

While both are adept at burrowing, the gopher is specifically adapted for a life spent largely underground with its robust body and strong claws.

What is a notable feature of a gopher's mouth?

A gopher has large, fur-lined cheek pouches.

Is the chipmunk native to North America?

Yes, the chipmunk is native to North America.

Are there multiple species of chipmunks?

Yes, there are several species of chipmunks, most of which are found in North America.

Which animal is more likely to be found in open grasslands?

Gophers are more likely to be found in open grasslands.

Are both chipmunks and gophers rodents?

Yes, both chipmunks and gophers are rodents, but they belong to different families.

How can one differentiate between a chipmunk and a gopher by observing their eyes?

Chipmunks have large, round eyes, while gophers have smaller eyes.

Which rodent has a chirping call?

The chipmunk is known for its chirping calls.

Are gophers active throughout the year?

Gophers are active year-round, as they remain underground where temperatures are more stable.

Do both chipmunks and gophers have cheek pouches?

Yes, both chipmunks and gophers have cheek pouches, but the gopher's pouches are fur-lined and larger.

Do chipmunks hibernate?

Yes, chipmunks hibernate, but they wake up periodically to eat stored food.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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