ASK A QUESTION Gophers, moles, squirrels, topos y ardillas?
For those of you who are fuzzy on the meanings of the English words, gophers and moles live underground. Moles are blind, gophers are not. The little animal in the Caddyshack movie is a gopher. Squirrels generally live in trees, though here in Southern California there are a tremendous number of ground squirrels that live underground, and they are somewhat different from tree squirrels. They are not the same as gophers.
My workers use topo for both gophers and moles. Ardilla means squirrel to them, regardless of whether the squirrel lives in a tree or underground. The online dictionaries say that a topo is a mole, and that a gopher is an ardilla de tierra, which to me means ground squirrel.
Anyone have any different regional words for these pests?
A (pocket) gopher - an animal of the family Geomyidae is commonly called a tuza or taltuza
f. Méx. taltuza.
f. C. Rica, El Salv., Guat., Hond. y Nic. Mamífero roedor, de 16 a 18 cm de longitud y pelaje rojizo oscuro, que vive bajo tierra en túneles que excava. A ambos lados del interior de la boca, bajo las mejillas, tiene bolsas que le sirven para transportar alimento.
I just found these which you might find helpful:
Hi, Kevin...I am not an expert on these animals (in any language!), but I do know that my Venezuelan friends had no idea what a squirrel is - when they aw their first squirrel in the US they were fascinated.
I am inferring from that experience as well as some others (not with animals but with different types of berries) that even though a word exists in Spanish for something that is common in English, that particular animal, berry or whatever, may not exist in all Spanish-speaking countries. Thus, for example, to speak of an "ardilla" (squirrel) in Venezuela would result in blanks looks. Until recently, to speak of "arándanos" (cranberries) in Mexico would also elicit blank looks. In Venezuela "moras" is technically used for blueberries, but nobody really knows what they are (or at least not where I was).
I have resolved this issue in my own mind by just going with the flow in whatever country I happen to be in. If I'm in Spain, a grapefruit is a "pomelo, whereas in Mexico it's a "toronja".
If a "topo" does double duty as a mole and a gopher for your friends, so be it! (What about "perro de la pradera" for gopher, just to complicate things!)
There are so many varieties of Spanish that a dictionary can be viewed as a good starting point, but it's frequently not the definite answer for each case.
I hope I have not confused you more!