Gophers live by digging tunnels under your garden and eating through the plants. If you have gopher infestation in your garden or lawn, you will see some common signs of infestation including mounds of dirt, raised ridges in the soil, damage to plants, holes in the ground, etc.
So, in case you have seen these signs, you can be sure that gophers are the convicts responsible for this mess.
Now, the question comes up, how to get rid of gophers? Well, simply put, you can use repellents or fumigation methods to deter them in the fastest way. You can also set DIY gopher traps to catch these rodents and release them in a new location.
However, getting rid of gophers is sure to be a lot more challenging than it sounds. So, in this guide, we will tell you in detail how you can get rid of gophers and prevent future infestations.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
A Quick Understanding of Gopher Behavior
Simply, gophers are infamous for their burrowing skills. They can dig up more tunnels even than a mole and wreak havoc on your garden like a miniature Godzilla.
Let’s discuss the behavior of gophers and how they cause damage to gardens and lawns in this section below.
Harmful Behavior Of Gophers
Gophers are not your average garden pests. They are expert burrowers, and their tunnels can reach depths of up to 6 feet. Gophers use their powerful front legs and sharp claws to dig these tunnels.
This can cause significant damage to the roots of plants and shrubs. In fact, a gopher can damage up to 2,000 square feet (1.86 acre) of your lawn or garden in just a few months.
But it’s not just their burrowing that causes problems. These burrowing rodents also have a taste for plant roots: they just love chewing on plant life (roots, leaves, and shrubs). This can stunt your garden’s growth and even cause plant death.
Physical Characteristics and lifestyle
In terms of physical characteristics, gophers have a unique set of adaptations that make them perfectly suited for their burrowing lifestyle.
To be specific, they have stocky bodies, short necks, and strong legs and shoulders. This gives them the power they need to dig their tunnels.
In addition, their front paws are equipped with long, sharp claws that are perfect for digging through tough soil. And their teeth are designed for gnawing through roots and other tough plant material.
Moreover, these burrowing mammals are also territorial. That means that they’ll defend their burrow systems like their lives depend on them. They defend their burrows aggressively and will attack anything they perceive as a threat, including other gophers and humans.
This behavior makes them challenging to trap and remove. And that’s why it’s essential to take a comprehensive approach to gopher wildlife control.
Comparison of gophers with other garden pests
Let’s compare gopher behavior with other common garden pests like moles and voles.
Moles are similar to gophers in that they burrow underground, but they primarily feed on insects and worms. So, they’re not that dangerous.
On the other hand, voles are small rodents that primarily feed on plant material like grass and flower bulbs. This can cause damage to your garden. But it’s not usually as severe as the damage caused by gophers.
And to top it off, these critters love to breed during spring and summer. So, you can rest assured that they’re going to be multiplying faster than rabbits.
Gopher Prevention Tips: How to Keep Gophers Away In The First Place
You don’t have to let annoying rodents wreak havoc on your garden. With a little bit of planning, you can keep these burrowing rodents at bay.
Here are some effective tips to prevent gophers:
1. Build a Physical Barrier
You can create a physical barrier by using wire mesh or hardware cloth buried at least a foot deep into the soil. The mesh should be sturdy enough to prevent rodents from chewing through it.
In addition, you can also use raised garden beds or containers to keep your plants above ground level.
2. Natural Repellents
There are several natural repellents that can be effective in deterring gophers from your garden.
Some common options include
- Planting gopher-repelling plants like castor beans
- Using essential oils like peppermint or eucalyptus
- Spreading used kitty litter around the garden (burrowing rodents do not like the smell of cats)
3. Chemical Repellents
One example of a chemical repellent is castor oil-based spray. This spray works by creating an unpleasant odor and taste that gophers find repulsive. Thus, deterring these animals from burrowing in your garden becomes an easy task.
The spray is applied directly to the soil, and it is effective for up to two months.
Another example is the granular repellent. This contains a mixture of essential oils and plant extracts that emit an odor that gophers dislike. The granules are spread over the soil surface and need to be reapplied every four to six weeks.
Some other popular deterring options include predator urine (like coyote or fox urine).
4. Sonic repellent
Sonic devices are also commonly used to repel gophers. These emit a high-pitched sound that is irritating to them. This causes them to flee from the area.
Sonic devices come in different types, including battery-operated stakes and solar-powered units. Some models even have multiple frequency settings to target different types of garden pests.
However, gophers can slowly become habituated to the sound over time. So, this solution might not be permanent.
5. Under-lawn barrier
You can lay galvanized gopher mesh 4 to 6 inches under the soil when planting a new lawn, laying sod, or in shallow flower beds. This will surely protect your grass and plants from gopher damage.
6. Plants that repel gophers
You can grow plants that have a toxic or unpleasant effect on gophers, such as daffodils, lavender, catmint, and thyme. These plants will deter all rodents from entering or feeding in your garden.
7. Remove Attractants
Gophers are attracted to lush, green lawns and gardens. You can reduce the attractiveness of your garden by removing any excess water, debris, and other potential food sources.
Make sure your also clean up any fallen fruit or vegetables, as these can attract burrowing rodents to your garden.
Gopher Control Methods
In this section, let’s discuss the different effective gopher control methods and their pros and cons.
There are various methods for controlling gophers, including DIY and professional options.
A) DIY Gopher Damage Control Methods
DIY methods are affordable, easy to use, and can be done anytime without needing professional help. Some of the DIY methods we recommend are:
1. Non-lethal Trapping (Live Trapping)
One way to make a DIY trap to catch gophers alive is to use a modified mousetrap and a wire. Here are the steps to make one by yourself:
Step 1: Acquire two mousetraps.
Step 2: Locate an active gopher tunnel by probing the soil with a metal rod or a screwdriver. You can also look for fresh mounds of soil or collapsed tunnels on the surface.
Step 3: Dig a hole into the tunnel with a shovel or a trowel and insert your trap into it.
The trap should fit snugly in the tunnel and block any light from entering.
Step 4: Cover the tunnel hole with some dirt or grass to camouflage it.
Step 5: Check your trap daily and dispose of any caught gophers humanely. Reset your trap until you catch no more gophers.
2. Lethal Trapping:
Lethal trapping is one of the direct and indiscriminate methods for controlling pocket gophers. Here are the steps you can follow to use this method:
Step 1: Identify the active tunnels by probing the soil near fresh mounds with a metal rod or a gopher probe.
Stsp 2: Dig a small hole into the tunnel with a shovel or a trowel.
Step 3: Take a type of lethal trap, such as a Macabee, Cinch, or Gophinator. These are 2-pronged pincer traps that kill the gopher when it pushes against a flat, vertical pan or metal wire.
Step 4: Set two traps facing opposite directions in the tunnel. Then, use a small amount of fresh vegetation as bait on the pan or wire.
Step 5: Cover the hole with a piece of cardboard or plywood and some soil to exclude light and air currents.
Step 6: Check the traps every day and reset them if necessary until you catch the gopher. Don’t forget to dispose of the dead carcass properly.
3. DIY Fumigation
Fumigation involves using gas cartridges or smoke bombs to fill the gopher tunnels with toxic fumes.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Step 1: Locate the active tunnels of the gophers by probing the ground with a metal rod or a screwdriver.
- Step 2: Grab a bottle of castor oil and dishwashing soap from your kitchen.
- Step 3: Make a mixture of castor oil, dishwashing soap and water. Once the mixture is done, put it into a spray bottle.
- Step 4: You can also use a mixture of castor oil and water in a spray bottle and spray it into the gopher tunnels.
- Step 5: Cover the tunnel holes with soil or rocks to prevent the gophers from escaping from the fume you just sprayed.
- Step 6: Repeat this process every few days until you see no more signs of gopher activity.
Note: This method is safe for your plants and pets, but it may take some time and patience to work.
4. DIY Poison Baits
This method involves using toxic pellets that contain calcium sulfate that kill gophers when they ingest them.
You can either place them directly into the gopher holes or use a bait applicator in mid-sized containers.
Here are some general steps to follow if you want to do it in a DIY fashion:
- 1 cup of oatmeal
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup of plaster of Paris
- Mixing bowl
- Spoon or spatula
- Disposable gloves
- Bait station or container
Step 1: In a mixing bowl, combine the oatmeal, sugar, and plaster of Paris.
Step 2: Slowly add water to the mixture while stirring with a spoon. The mixture should have the consistency of cookie dough.
Step 3: Knead the mixture with your hands until it is fully combined and smooth.
Step 4: Roll the mixture into small balls or cylinders and place them in a bait station or container.
Step 5: Place the bait station or container in areas where you have seen gopher activity.
Step 6: Check the bait station or container daily and replace any consumed or degraded bait.
Step 7: After a few days, check for signs of gopher activity. If the bait has been consumed, continue to monitor the area and replenish the bait as necessary.
From an overall perspective, this method is quite efficient. But, it may also pose risks to other animals, pets, children, or the environment. So, be careful with your lawn care.
Flooding gopher tunnels with water is another DIY method for controlling gophers.
This method is effective in drowning gophers and their young. But it is not a long-term solution because they can rebuild their tunnels quickly.
B) Professional Gopher Control Methods
DIY methods might not really do the job for you. In that case, you can go one step further and use professional products (used by wildlife management professionals themselves) to get rid of gophers:
This is a device that uses carbon monoxide gas to suffocate and kill gophers and other burrowing rodents.
It consists of a metal probe that is inserted into the gopher tunnel and connected to a gas cylinder. The device releases carbon monoxide gas into the tunnel system, killing all the rodents inside.
Check out this video to find out how it works. The device is simple, safe, and effective. But it may be a bit costly.
The Gopher Scram Repellent3 is an organic gopher repellent that is non-toxic and environmentally safe. It provides professional results within a week.
It contains natural ingredients that irritate the gophers’ digestive system and make them leave your property. You can apply it around the perimeter of your yard or garden or directly over the gopher mounds.
This is a heavy-duty gopher trap that is designed to capture and kill gophers quickly and humanely.
You can place the traps near the entrance of the gopher burrows and check them regularly. The traps are easy to use and can be reused multiple times.
This particular professional bait is a poison-based bait that contains zinc phosphide (a chemical that kills gophers when they eat it).
It comes in red grain form that mimics their natural food source. You can either place the bait directly into the gopher holes or use a bait applicator to insert it into the tunnels.
Note: The bait is effective and economical. But, it may also pose risks to other animals, pets, children, or the environment.
This is another poison bait that contains strychnine alkaloid (a deadly chemical that kills gophers when they take it).
It comes in pellet form that is attractive to them. You can use a bait applicator to insert the bait into the tunnels.
Note: Apply precaution when using this because it may also pose risks to other animals, pets, children, or the environment.
You can call pest control professionals or pest control companies in your area, so they can install barriers, such as underground fences and mesh screens. This will prevent gophers from entering your garden or lawn.
Pros and Cons of Different Gopher Control Methods
For your convenience, we have compared the positives and negatives of all the removal methods you can use to eliminate gophers.
Just take a look:
|Time-consuming, requires locating active tunnels, may not be effective for larger infestations
|Safe for plants and pets, organic, reusable
|Time-consuming, requires multiple applications, may not be effective for larger infestations
|DIY Poison Baits
|Fast, efficient, reusable
|Toxic, may harm other animals, pets, children or the environment, may not be effective for larger infestations
|Not a long-term solution
|Safe, effective, easy to use
|Non-toxic, environmentally safe, professional results
|Requires multiple applications
|Quick, humane, reusable
|Requires locating active tunnels
|Toxic, may harm other animals, pets, children or the environment
|Wilco Gopher Getter
|Toxic, may harm other animals, pets, children or the environment
|Prevent future infestations
|Can be expensive, and may not be effective for existing infestations
Comparison with Other Garden Pest Control Techniques
At this point, let’s look at the basic go-for control methods in comparison to controlling other garden pests.
This way, you can have an idea of to what degree the gopher-controlling methods differ from other pest-control methods.
|Gopher Control Methods
|Other Garden Pest Control Methods
|Trapping (mice, rats, squirrels)
|Insecticidal Soaps (aphids, spider mites)
|Companion Planting (marigolds for repelling nematodes)
|Pesticide Sprays (for caterpillars, beetles, or mites)
|Sticky Traps (for flies or crawling insects)
Some frequently asked questions related to this topic are as follows:
Q: What are the different types of gophers, and do they have different control methods?
There are different types of gopher species, such as pocket gophers, plains pocket gophers, and Mexican pocket gophers.
They have different ranges and habitats, but they all feed on plants and create underground tunnels. Therefore, controlling methods for all of these are the same.
Q: Are gophers harmful to humans?
No. Gophers are not generally harmful to humans directly because they don’t attack humans. But they can cause damage to crops, gardens, lawns, irrigation systems, utility cables, and other garden equipment.
They can also create hazards for livestock and machinery by creating holes and mounds. So, while gophers don’t physically attack people, they surely do destroy property.
Q: What are some common mistakes to avoid when trying to get rid of gophers?
Some common mistakes that you should avoid when trying to get rid of gophers are:
- Overwatering your soil, which attracts moles and insects that gophers feed on
- Letting your pets and children near the garden when you have set traps and baits
- Using home remedies that are harmful to your plants and animals
- Not checking the legal status and gopher trapping regulations of gopher control in your area
Well, that’s all there’s to it, people. Now that hopefully, you’ve got a clear understanding of how to get rid of gophers with ease.
To wrap it all up, live trapping gophers can be a humane option, but you might also need to set little traps. Plus, using poison bait, flooding, and fumigation techniques can also be an effective solution.
Or you can also use commercially available poison baits, traps, etc., to get rid of gophers for good.
Overall, you can keep your outdoor space healthy and thriving only if you understand gopher behavior and know how to effectively control their numbers. Thus, implementing pest prevention strategies and using the appropriate methods is super important.
But remember that gophers are clever creatures. So, they might find new ways to avoid your traps and baits. If they do, you will need to keep researching for new ways to get them.
How to do that? Just browse through the pages of this website for the latest updates on gopher control. Thank you so much, and peace out!!!