Can You Eat Gophers? | A Beginner’s Guide to Eating Gophers

Gophers are cute little creatures that burrow underground and cause havoc for farmers and gardeners alike. But have you ever wondered if you could eat them? After all, they do look a bit like mini squirrels, and we eat those, right? In this blog post, we’ll explore the question: can you eat gophers?

What are gophers?

First things first, let’s establish what we’re talking about here. Gophers are small, burrowing rodents that are found throughout North America. They have stout bodies, short legs, and powerful front claws that are perfect for digging tunnels. Gophers are considered pests by many because they can cause damage to crops and gardens, as well as pose a danger to livestock and even humans.


Can you eat gophers?

The short answer is yes, you can eat gophers as they’re survival food. Gophers have been eaten by indigenous peoples in North America for centuries. However, just because you can eat them doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Here are a few things to consider before chowing down on a gopher.

Nutritional value

Gophers are not particularly nutritious. They are lean and have very little fat, which means they don’t provide a lot of calories. In fact, a 3.5-ounce serving of gopher meat contains just 117 calories. On the plus side, gopher meat is high in protein, with that same serving size containing 20 grams of protein.

Taste and texture

Many people who have eaten gopher describe the taste as being similar to chicken or rabbit. The meat is lean and can be quite tough, so it’s often cooked low and slow to make it more tender. However, some people find the taste and texture to be unappealing, so it’s definitely not for everyone.

Safety concerns

As with any wild game, there are safety concerns to consider when eating gophers. Gophers can carry diseases such as tularemia and plague, so it’s important to handle them with care and cook them thoroughly. Additionally, gophers that have been eating toxic plants or insects can be dangerous to eat, so it’s important to know where the gophers you’re eating came from and what they’ve been eating.

How to Prepare and Cook Gophers

Before we dive into how to prepare and cook gophers, it’s important to note that hunting and eating gophers may not be legal in all areas. Make sure to check local hunting and wildlife regulations before attempting to catch and eat gophers.

Assuming you have permission to hunt and eat gophers, here are the steps you’ll need to follow to prepare and cook them.

Step 1: Catching and cleaning the gophers

The first step in preparing gophers for cooking is to catch them. This can be done using a variety of traps or hunting techniques, but one of the most effective methods is to dig them out of their tunnels. Once you’ve caught your gophers, you’ll need to clean and gut them. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Rinse the gophers thoroughly with cold water to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Using a sharp knife, make a shallow cut around the base of the tail and use your fingers to peel the skin away from the body.
  3. Cut off the head and feet, and remove the internal organs.
  4. Rinse the gophers again with cold water to remove any remaining blood or debris.

Step 2: Preparing the meat

Once you’ve cleaned and gutted your gophers, it’s time to prepare the meat for cooking. Gopher meat is lean and can be quite tough, so it’s best to marinate it before cooking to help tenderize it.

Here’s a simple marinade recipe:


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
  2. Place the cleaned and gutted gophers in a large bowl or resealable plastic bag.
  3. Pour the marinade over the gophers and toss to coat.
  4. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Step 3: How do you cook gophers

There are a variety of ways to cook gopher meat, but one of the most popular methods is to roast it. Here’s a recipe for roasted gopher that’s sure to impress your guests:


  • 4 cleaned and gutted gophers
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet and set it aside.
  3. In the same skillet, sauté the onion and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth to the skillet and bring it to a simmer.
  5. Remove the gophers from the marinade and place them in a roasting pan.
  6. Pour the onion and garlic mixture over the gophers, and season them with salt and pepper.
  7. Lay the bacon slices over the top of the gophers.
  8. Roast the gophers in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender and cooked through.
  9. Remove the gophers from the oven and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.

Final thoughts

Preparing and cooking gophers can be a unique experience. However, it’s important to note that gophers are not commonly eaten in most parts of the world, so it may take some experimentation to find the best cooking methods and flavors that suit your taste.

Additionally, it’s crucial to follow proper food safety guidelines when handling and cooking gophers, just as you would with any other type of meat. Make sure to cook gophers thoroughly to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

Overall, if you have the opportunity to try cooking gophers, it can be a fun and adventurous culinary experience. With the right preparation and cooking methods, gopher meat can be a delicious and unique addition to your meals.

Related Questions

What do gophers look like?

Gophers are typically small, with short legs and a compact, cylindrical body. They have fur that is usually brown or gray in color, with a short tail and small ears.

Where do gophers live?

Gophers live in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, forests, and deserts. They are most commonly found in areas with loose, sandy soil that is easy to dig through.

What do gophers eat?

Gophers are herbivores and primarily eat plant roots, bulbs, and other underground vegetation. They may also eat above-ground plants and vegetation.

Do gophers hibernate?

Gophers do not hibernate, but they may become less active during the winter months when food is scarce and the ground is frozen.

How long do gophers live?

Gophers typically live for 2-3 years in the wild.

Are gophers dangerous?

Gophers are generally not considered dangerous to humans, although they can cause damage to lawns and gardens. In some cases, they may also carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

Can you eat gophers?

Yes, gophers can be eaten, although they are not commonly consumed in most parts of the world.

How do you catch gophers?

Gophers can be caught using a variety of traps, including box traps, snap traps, and live traps. They can also be hunted using firearms or other weapons.

What is the best way to control gophers?

The best way to control gophers is to prevent them from entering your yard or garden in the first place. This can be done by installing physical barriers, such as wire mesh or fencing, and by using natural deterrents, such as castor oil.

Can gophers swim?

Gophers are not good swimmers and can drown in water.

How fast can gophers run?

Gophers are not known for their speed and typically move slowly through their underground tunnels.

How many babies do gophers have?

Gophers typically have litters of 5-6 babies, which are born blind and hairless.

What is the gestation period for gophers?

The gestation period for gophers is approximately 19-21 days.

What are some common predators of gophers?

Gophers have a number of predators, including snakes, hawks, owls, and coyotes.

How do gophers communicate with each other?

Gophers communicate with each other using a variety of vocalizations and physical cues, such as scent marking and body posture.

How do gophers dig their tunnels?

Gophers use their sharp claws and powerful legs to dig their tunnels through the soil.

Can gophers climb?

Gophers are not known for their climbing abilities and typically stay close to the ground.

What is the scientific name for gophers?

The scientific name for gophers is Thomomys.

Are gophers endangered?

Gophers are not currently considered endangered, although some species may be threatened by habitat loss and other environmental factors.

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