In the movie, Gopher has brown fur, creamy brown chest fur, buck teeth, and a brownish nose. In the television series, his design has been changed as his eyes are more widened, his nose is black, his teeth have been shortened, his outer fur is noticeably more darker brown while his chest fur is relatively brown.
In the original theatrical version of The Lion King, Gopher appears right after Zazu is pounced by Simba, and tells him that the hyenas have invaded the Pride Lands.
In the 2003 Special Edition version of the film, when Zazu begins singing "The Morning Report," Gopher pops up from a pile of dirt, and is spotted by Simba who tries to pounce him, but Gopher pops back inside the dirt. Gopher reappears, trying to get Mufasa's attention, but Simba notices him again, to which the gopher hides back in the dirt. For the third time, Gopher reappears near a small rock, and Simba notices him again to try to pounce him, Gopher disappears to which Simba hits his head on the rock. Mufasa notices Simba's activity, and tries to get him to pounce Zazu. Simba quietly pounces Zazu, and launches him away with his mouth, and Gopher reappears telling Zazu that the hyenas are in the Pride Lands.
Gopher appears in the Zazu-centered episodes in the television series, though his design in the series is noticeably different from his first appearance.
In "Zazu's Off-by-One Day," Gopher is (temporarily) given Zazu's job after Zazu makes an error while counting the animal population. In "Zazu's Off Day Off," he brings the news to Zazu that an elephant has blocked the river.
According to the August 1993 script written by the film's screenwriters, the character is properly identified as a mole. However, according to David Cleary's article on Thumper.net, moles only live in North America, Europe, and Asia. Cleary theorized that the character's species is either a mole rat (family Bathyergidae, 9 species in 5 genera) or a root rat (subfamily Rhizomyinae, genus Tachyoryctes, 2 species); these types of animals are native to sub-Saharan Africa, are about the size and shape of gophers, have very prominent gnawing incisors, dig extensive underground tunnels, and have visible (though very small) eyes.
Cleary also theorized that the animators may have taken extensive liberty with the animal coloring of the gopher in the movie. This is indeed true as according to Internet Movie Database's trivia page for The Lion King, the character was originally going to be a naked mole rat, but the animators couldn't get the character to look right. One of the directors said, "We would've lost our G rating!"