Taking care of a garden or a lawn is hard work. You have to make sure the plants are watered, fertilized, and maintained. However, if pests are there, the job gets more challenging. Especially, backyard pests like gophers.
These rodents can become very troublesome if left alone. So, you have to deal with them. To do that, understanding gopher behavior and lifespan is essential.
Now the first question that should come to your mind is how long does a gopher live? They can live up to 3 years if there are no diseases, predators, or external hindrances.
In this article, we will cover everything about gophers and effective gopher control. Also, the pieces of information that you need to know about garden or lawn management.
Understanding Gopher Lifespan
Gophers live longer compared to other rodents like mice and rats, but how long do gophers live? They can live from 1 to 3 years. That is quite high if you compare them to other garden pests.
There are many factors affecting gopher lifespan. Gophers can die from hantavirus, leptospirosis, rabies, etc. Rabies, in particular, is one of the leading causes of gopher mortality. Aside from these, gophers also have many natural enemies, such as snakes, weasels, hawks, owls, etc.
Also, gophers prefer soil types that are not too muddy. It is because they cannot dig and make burrows. The muddy soil also makes their claw dirty and fur dirty. That just makes muddy places an unfavorable place to live for gophers.
Overall, gopher control and lifespan are related. As gophers live longer than any normal pests, the damage they can do to a garden or a lawn can be devastating. Yet, the natural enemies, habitat, and diseases do not affect them much if they are in a safe environment like your garden or lawn.
Thus, they like to stay in this safe environment rather than go into the wild to get hunted by predators. As a result, they enjoy being in a garden or a lawn.
Gopher Behavior and Lifespan
Gopher behavior can be slightly compared to other rodents such as moles, voles, etc. It is because they also burrow, but they have different characteristics, behavior, and lifespan. So, you must know about them better to distinguish the gophers from other rodents.
Gophers are active all year round and do not hibernate at all. A gopher can have burrows that can cover up to 2,000 square feet of area, which helps them to travel within these holes.
Also, these small animals have different burrows for nests and food storage. Moreover, they like to live alone and only live with their gopher species when they mate.
Lastly, you should know already that gophers are herbivores. Plants like grass, succulents, tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, fleshy roots, etc. are their favorite food. They carry these vegetables in their cheek pockets that extend to their shoulder. For this reason, they are also called pocket gophers.
Gopher Behavior and Their Impacts
Grophers being active all year round means they can cause damage to plants throughout the year. This leads to severe lawn damage. Additionally, you cannot properly mow your lawn either because of these burrows.
The food habit of gophers also means they will destroy the plants. They always go for the roots and sometimes even drag the plants totally from the ground in their burrows.
Another interesting fact is that gophers eat 75 percent of their body weight daily. They can be around 1 kg, so they eat 75 grams of plants every day.
If you calculate assuming they live 3 years, they consume 85 kg of plants. This information should urge you to learn about effective pest prevention for gophers.
Gopher vs Other Rodents
In terms of garden damage, no other rodents come as close to gophers. Rodents such as brown rats, moles, voles, mice, etc., are considered pests. However, they are mostly omnivores so plants are not on their priority list.
Secondly, if you want to judge them on burrowing habits, gophers do extensive digging. Moles also do the same, but they do not steal plants from their burrow like gophers. So, gophers again win based on troublesome pests.
Thirdly, foraging is quite important for gophers. No other pests forage as much as these animals. They do not forage for hibernation either. So, they do this throughout the year.
Lastly, caching is also a gopher trait. They all have a food cache in their burrows. The foods they forage go in there and they like to hog everything they can get their teeth in. That is one of the reasons they never stop collecting food.
Preventing Gopher Damage
As you can see from the previous sections, gophers can do a lot of garden and lawn damage if left alone. So here’s how you can deal with these annoying animals. We will cover the most effective pest management for gophers.
Many kinds of traps are used to trap and eliminate gophers. There are traps such as box traps, wire traps, and live traps.
- Box traps and wire traps can kill gophers.
- On the other hand, live traps are for capturing and relocation, and they are encouraged to use in some places because of trapping regulations.
Traps always need to be set up at the entrance of a burrow. So, it is important to locate burrows and it can be easily done by identifying mounds. Gopher mounds look like a half-circle or crescent shape.
After locating a mound, place the traps in multiple holes. It is because a gopher never uses a single entrance or exit. It can come out of its burrow systems from any of the holes.
Overall, they are all effective and excellent for preventing gopher damage to lawns without using poisonous chemicals.
The passive way to deal with these rodents is to exclude them from plants, ornamental shrubs, seedlings, etc. It can be done using gopher wires or any metal mesh. The wire or mesh should be fashioned like a cage that covers a whole bed or a plant.
The cage also needs to cover the roots of the plants because gophers can do damage from underground too. For this reason, the cage needs to go deep into the soil. Bury them 24 inches deep and should cover at least 1 foot above the ground.
All these need to be done before preparing the bed or planting the tree. So, the exclusion of gophers is mostly preparation and excellent for preventing gopher damage to gardens.
Gopher Resistant Plants
Gopher avoids a few plants, and planting them means there are no chances of gopher attacks. They are also a good option if you want to maintain wildlife removal policies for gophers in certain states.
Many garden plants and bushes exist, such as Chives, Mugwort, Bush anemones, Wild lilac, Mexican daisy, Dwarf coyote bush, etc.
On the other hand, trees that gophers hate include the Strawberry tree, Shore pine, White spruce, Monterey cypress, etc. So, if you plant gopher-resistant trees, you do not have to think about any gopher problems.
Also, getting the help of pest control companies is always an option. They operate by maintaining all the policies. It is sometimes easier to let professionals handle these things.If you’re interested in gopher lifespan, our article on how long does a gopher live provides information on the average lifespan of gophers in the wild. Additionally, if you’re living in California and want to know about the legality of killing gophers, our article on is it legal to kill gophers in California provides an overview of the regulations related to gopher control in the state. Finally, if you’re looking for effective ways to collapse gopher tunnels, our article on how to collapse gopher tunnels provides a variety of methods for controlling gopher populations. Our piece on is it legal to kill gophers in California provides further insights into the regulations related to their control in the state, while our article on how to collapse gopher tunnels provides effective methods for controlling gopher populations.
Here are some frequently asked questions people look for when they want to know about gophers.
Q. Can gophers cause damage to pipes and other underground structures?
Yes. Gophers can easily damage plastic pipes and water lines. Their sharp incisors can cut through the plastic. So, things like plastic underground tanks can be damaged by these rodents.
Q. How deep do gophers tunnel?
The usual tunnels gophers dig are 6 to 12 inches underground, but their storage food chambers can be 7 feet below the ground. So, these animals can dig deep.
Q. How many gophers can live in a single burrow system?
Gophers are antisocial. A single gopher lives in a single burrow system alone, but they live together when they mate.
For a quick recap, how long does a gopher live? The answer is 1 to 3 years. Knowing about gopher lifespan and behavior is important to deal with them efficiently. If not, you can confuse them with other rodents such as rats, mice, etc.
The countermeasure for every pest is different, so what might work for rats and mice will not work for gophers. If you have read the article, you also know how to deal with a gopher infestation and the damage it can cause.
We hope the information helps you identify or solve problems in your garden or lawn. Also, we urge you to do further research on gophers and find ways to deal with these garden pests that suit you best.