5 Diseases Carried by Gophers

5 Diseases Carried By Gophers

Gophers are small-sized rodents that burrow underground utilizing a combination of their front claws and teeth. While the creatures have poor vision and do not hear very well, they have a strong sense of touch.

The gopher’s teeth are consistently growing. In order to keep them short, they have to gnaw on a regular basis. While relatively cute in appearance, humans should avoid touching, feeding, and interacting with gophers.

Gophers typically do not approach humans; however, they may come in close contact due to burrowing in and around places where people live, work, and play. Studies have concluded that gophers have the capability of carrying 5 different diseases – lymphocytic choriomeningitis, leptospirosis, hantavirus, rabies, and the plague.

Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis

Lymphocytic choriomeningitis, commonly referred to as “LCM”, is a viral-based infectious disease that is rodent-borne. While the primary host of this disease is the common household mouse, it has been identified among other rodents, such as the gopher.

Exposure to urine, saliva from gophers, droppings, and nesting materials may result in the transmission of this infection. Symptoms will commonly occur 8-13 days following exposure. These may include the following:

  • Fever
  • General Feeling of Malaise
  • Poor Appetite
  • Muscle Aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sore Throat
  • Pain in the Joints
  • Chest Pain
  • Salivary Gland Pain
  • Testicular Pain
  • Weakness


Leptospirosis is a bacterial-based disease that detrimentally impacts both humans and animals. The bacteria that infects is commonly spread through the urine from an infected gopher or other animal. In most instances, this urine comes in contact with the water sources or the soil that the infected animal has come in contact with.

The infectious urine has the capability of surviving in these areas for months. Apart from gophers, the bacteria is carried by dogs, cattle, horses, pigs, rats, mice, and an assortment of wild animals. Infected animals may not display any symptoms of the disease. In humans, the following symptoms may be exhibited after infection:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Pain and Aches in the Muscles
  • Red, Irritated Eyes
  • Pain in the Abdominal Region
  • Rash
  • Gastrointestinal Complications, Such as Diarrhea
  • Jaundice


The hantavirus is commonly carried by the cotton rat, the deer mouse, the rice rat, and the white-footed mouse; however, many cases have been discovered where the disease is carried by gophers.

This disease is commonly transmitted through contact with infected urine, droppings, and the saliva of infected creatures. This disease may prove to be fatal. It carries a mortality rate of 38%. The following outlines the symptoms that may be experienced by people who have contracted the illness:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Muscle Pain
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Gastrointestinal Complications
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of Breath
  • In Serious Cases, the Lungs May Fill with Fluid


Rabies is a viral-based disease of mammals. It is most often spread through the bite of an infected animal, such as a gopher. Wild animals such as skunks, bats, raccoons, and foxes commonly carry the illness; however, rodents – such as mice, rats, and gophers – are also capable of carrying and spreading rabies.

This is a serious illness that negatively impacts the central nervous system. It then, ultimately, results in the onset of brain disease. Eventually, it can lead to death. The following outlines the symptoms that may occur with rabies:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Discomfort
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Paralysis
  • Hallucinations
  • Hypersalivation
  • Agitation
  • Excitation
  • Problems Swallowing
  • The Immense Fear of Water (Hydrophobia)

The Plague

While considered to be a rare occurrence in the modern world, the plague may still be transmitted by rodents, such as the gopher. This is caused by an infectious bacterium and is transmitted by fleas. Once one contracts the plague, they will develop symptoms within 1 to 6 days. To date, there are 3 main types of modern plague that may be carried by gophers.

These include the bubonic plague, the septicemic plague, and the pneumonic plague. The following outlines symptoms that may be experienced with plague varieties. The symptoms experienced will depend on the type of plague that has been contracted from gophers:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Stomach Pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Shock
  • Cough
  • Problems Breathing
  • Nausea

If you have gophers on your property, you must eliminate the creatures. The quickest, safest, and most effective method is through wildlife removal services. In taking this step, you are protecting yourself, your loved ones, and your pets from the potentially devastating diseases outlined in this guide.

For more information, contact us here at Palmetto Wildlife Extractors by calling: 855-465-1088.

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