Botta’s pocket gopher, Digger, is newest educational ambassador

The Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center’s newest
educational ambassador is a Botta’s pocket gopher that was rescued
late last year in San Jose. It’s not known exactly how Digger came
to be injured while wandering above ground after October’s big
storm. Perhaps he was flushed out of his tunnel by the rain and
then was sideswiped by a wannabe racecar driver or by an errant
lawnmower.
The Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center’s newest educational ambassador is a Botta’s pocket gopher that was rescued late last year in San Jose. It’s not known exactly how Digger came to be injured while wandering above ground after October’s big storm.

Perhaps he was flushed out of his tunnel by the rain and then was sideswiped by a wannabe racecar driver or by an errant lawnmower. A kindhearted person brought him to the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley, where he remained for two months while being treated for a badly abscessed lip. The infection may have caused mental problems that have made the gopher non-releasable. Despite his traumatic experiences, the gopher is sweet-tempered and suitable as an educational animal. After being transferred to WERC, Digger was given a complete exam by Dr. Suzanne Colbert (Princevalle Pet Hospital in Gilroy) who pronounced him in excellent physical health.

Digger is named after NASCAR’s gopher-cam, an in-ground camera that pops up in the racetrack to film stock cars as they speed overhead. WERC’s Digger, though, is safe from speeding cars, bikes and lawnmowers. He now lives in a large aquarium filled with wood shavings that he enjoys building tunnels through. He has a variety of chew toys that he can gnaw on to keep his incisors at proper length, as gopher teeth grow constantly. Digger enjoys eating from a menu of assorted fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as special nutritious rodent food.

Digger is the third pocket gopher to become a WERC animal. WERC doesn’t admit rodents for rehabilitation, but has taken in these three gophers for programs in schools and for public events. The first gopher was Pockets, who had her ear ripped off and her jaw wounded from the talons of a hawk. To add insult to injury, after the hawk dropped her, a cat picked her up and carried her home. The second gopher was Patches, another cat-caught critter, named because of the new fur growing out on his healing wounds. Both have since passed away to that Big Gopher Pasture in the sky.

You’re invited to meet Digger and WERC’s other educational animals at the popular “Animal Days” at A Children’s Garden, 610 E. Dunne Ave., Morgan Hill, Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Check out this newspaper’s online South County Pets Blog for WERC’s update on Digger’s new video in the making.

Leave your comments