Mind Blown: This is Not a Gopher
My mind was so completely blown this morning that I feel as though my entire childhood was a lie.
The animal pictured above is not a gopher. My entire life I was told that this little guy was a gopher. It is, in fact, a "thirteen-lined ground squirrel."
The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks wildlife brochure points out the common mistake made calling the critter a gopher.
The vegetarian ground squirrels, mistakenly called gophers, spend as much as three fourths of their lives underground asleep. South Dakota has four species called ground squirrels plus the black-tailed prairie dog, which is also a ground squirrel. The thirteen-lined ground squirrel, occurring statewide, is the most common. It has broken stripes on its sides and back. The Richardson's, found in the northeastern South Dakota, has no spots or stripes. The Franklin's, inhabiting eastern South Dakota, is the largest and darkest and also has no spots or stripes. The small spotted ground squirrel has distinct square spots of white on its back. It is restricted to the Sandhill country of southwest South Dakota.
This is a gopher: