This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
I send to the Institution a young Gopher, a little more than half grown, which I hope will reach yon in safety. If he arrives alive, take a flour barrel and fill it half full of moist earth, potatoes, corn, or beets, at the bottom, for food, and he will dig down and help himself, if the earth is compact, so that he can make a hole in it without its caving in upon him. I have never Been them drink; but it will be well to set a dish of water where he can come out on the top of the earth and drink it Keep the barrel covered loosely, but so that he cannot climb out; and set it on a floor or plank, so that, if he should get out, he need not get easily into the ground. His habits of digging and eating you will see only by careful watching in the barrel. He uses bis paws and his pouches to carry both dirt and food. He digs long holes in the ground, extending sometimes for rods or even miles, about two feet below the surface, and at suitable distances makes side cuts, at an angle of about 45°, running from the longitudinal main track up to the surface.
Through these side cuts he carries up the dirt from the trunk below, as long as he finds it convenient to retain it, in his pouches; then he turns back, and fills this side cut full of quite hard earth down to his main trenches, and then makes another and another side cut further on, filling all these up, and stopping every crevice where light or air can enter, so that his abode, when finished, is one long, winding passage, wholly excluded from all light and air, from one to three or four, perhaps more feet under ground - generally about two feet, except in places where it is made deeper, to deposit food in piles, or to procure water. In these subterranean passages he lives at all times, and gathers food, roots, etc, in summer, and stores them in large, deep holes for winter. He is never seen above ground, except in the rare cases when food becomes scarce in one field, or for some other cause he prefers another; then, he will sometimes condescend to walk a part of the way above ground, rather than persevere in his migration by digging below, and then, for most part, only in the night Whether they live in droves or families, or only in pairs, is uncertain; but if two strange gophers are put together, they at once attack each other, and the victor devours his antagonist I cannot therefore, send you a pair at once, as I promised; and this is the first and only one I have seen this summer, except one killed and mangled in taking, so thoroughly did my boys wage their war of extermination on them last year.
I will watch for more in the spring, if wanted. I have not time now for a more particular description, but will answer in future any questions desired. You are aware of its mischievous destruction of hedges and fruit-trees, as also of clover and all root crops. - Smithsonian Transactions.