It turns out that gophers glow when exposed to UV light
As it turns out, the rodent popularly known as the pocket gopher can glow, but only when exposed to UV light. The discovery was detailed in a new University of Georgia study that reports that these underground rodents are actually biofluorescent. How was the discovery made? Some curious researchers aimed UV light at different rodents to see which of them glowed.
Pocket squirrels are small, spirited and live underground in regions with sandy soil. It turns out that they also have an interesting orange-pink color when exposed to ultraviolet light – although, according to the researchers, they aren’t the only rodents with this unique hidden superpower.
According to the researchers, they were intrigued by the idea based on previous studies that found similar fluorescent effects in opossums and flying squirrels. Using this research as inspiration, the researchers began using UV light to illuminate various animals they had available, including the pocket squirrel.
As with the flying squirrel and the opossum, the pocket squirrels glowed in UV light and added them to the list of biofluorescent rodents. The discovery was made in 2019 when the university was “a little something” in certain scientific circles, referring to figuring out which living things glow under ultraviolet rays.
Why do gophers – as well as some spiders, scorpions, and other creatures – glow under UV light? Nobody knows at this point, although there is speculation that this unique ability may have evolved for purposes ranging from communication to protection. Regardless, the next time you see one of these rodents, point a black light at it and enjoy the show.