How To Set A Gopher Trap: A Step-By-Step Guide

Gophers can be a real nuisance for homeowners and gardeners, causing damage to lawns and gardens by burrowing underground. If you’re experiencing a gopher infestation, setting a trap to suppress them can effectively control the problem. 

Before setting a trap, it’s essential to understand the behavior and habitats of gophers. Gophers are burrowing backyard pests that can be found in most parts of North America. They have a voracious appetite and can quickly damage gardens and lawns by digging tunnels and feeding on roots and bulbs.

The garden pests’ peak activity times are typically in the early morning and late evening. Their activity levels also tend to increase during the spring and fall when the soil is moist and easier to dig. When placing a trap, selecting a location where gophers are likely to be active is crucial.

Read on to learn the most comprehensive guide on how to set a gopher trap. This will include the trap types, tips and tricks for setting them up, and what to do with the gophers you trap.

Types of Gopher Traps

Gophers can be frustrating, and choosing the right trap is crucial for effective control. Several types of DIY gopher trap ideas are available, each with advantages and disadvantages. Alternatively, if you are looking for gopher traps in the market, here are the best types.

Types of Gopher Traps

1. Spring-Loaded Traps

Spring-loaded traps are a classic choice for catching gophers. These traps work by setting a spring-loaded mechanism that closes down on the gopher when it takes the bait. The trap is placed in the gopher’s tunnel, and when the gopher trips the mechanism, it’s caught.

Spring-Loaded Traps


  • You can effectively kill gophers and minimize suffering with these traps.
  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Catching multiple gophers is easy since they are reusable.


  • They can be dangerous, as they can snap closed on fingers or other body parts.
  • Require regular checking to remove any caught gophers promptly.

2. Box Traps

Box traps are another popular choice for catching gophers. These traps are designed to be more humane than spring-loaded traps, as they allow live trapping of the gopher. The trap is placed in the gopher’s tunnel, and when the gopher enters, a door closes behind it, trapping it inside.

Box Traps


  • They are humane, allowing gophers to be caught alive and released elsewhere.
  • Since you can reuse them, you can catch multiple gophers.
  • Easy to set up and use.


  • You must check them regularly to ensure the gopher is released on time.
  • As some gophers may be wary of entering the trap, they may only be effective in catching some.

3. Poison Bait Traps

Poison bait traps are controversial for professional gopher control, as they involve using toxic bait instead of simple home remedies to kill the gophers. These traps work by baiting inside the gopher’s tunnel, and when the gopher eats the bait, it’s poisoned and dies.

Poison Bait Traps


  • They can be effective in quickly killing gophers.
  • Requires minimal effort to set up and use.


  • Based on the type of poison used, some may be against trapping regulations.

Setting a Gopher Trap: Step-by-Step Guide

Setting a Gopher Trap

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to set a trap for gophers.

Step 1: Choose the Right Location

You must choose a location where gophers are likely active to set a gopher trap. Look for signs of gopher activity, such as fresh mounds of dirt or freshly dug holes. It’s best to set traps near the entrances of the gopher’s burrow.

Step 2: Prepare the Trap

Before setting the trap, ensure it is clean and debris-free. If you use a spring-loaded trap, ensure the trigger is set and the bait is in place. Alternatively, if you prefer a box trap, ensure the door and the bait are inside.

Step 3: Bait the Trap

Gophers are attracted to various baits, including fresh vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Some popular baits include carrots, apples, and peanuts. 

These are popular because they have a sweet aroma that is attractive to gophers and easy to attach to the trap. Place the bait in the trap, ensuring it is secure and will not fall out.

Step 4: Place the Trap

Once the trap is set and baited, carefully place it near the gopher’s burrow entrance. Ensure the trap is securely placed and not disturbed by other animals or people.

Place the Trap

Step 5: Check the Trap

Check the trap daily to see if you have caught a gopher. If the trap has been triggered, but no gopher species is present, reset the trap and try again. If you catch a gopher, carefully remove it from the trap and dispose of it humanely.

Best Times To Set Traps for Gophers

Gophers are active throughout the year but tend to be more active during certain times of the day and year. 

The best time of day to set traps for gophers is early in the morning or late in the evening when gophers are most active. During the day, gophers retreat to their burrows and are less likely to be caught in traps.

On the other hand, the best time of year to set traps for gophers is during their breeding season, which typically occurs from February to April. During this time, gophers are more active and likely to be caught in traps.

Gopher Trapping Tips and Tricks

Gopher Trapping Tips and Tricks

When setting traps for gophers, several tips and tricks can help improve your chances of success. Some effective gopher-trapping tips for beginners include:

  • Place traps near the entrances of gopher burrows.
  • Use fresh, attractive bait to lure gophers into the trap to avoid repelling them instead.
  • Keep traps clean and free of debris.
  • Check traps daily and reset them as needed.
  • Consider using multiple traps for a larger infestation.
  • Dispose of gophers humanely by releasing them if you use a box trap.

Common Mistakes When Trapping Gophers

There are a few common mistakes that people make when trapping gophers. You can increase your chances of catching a gopher by avoiding these mistakes.

  1. Placing traps in the wrong location: Placing the trap in the wrong location, such as a non-active burrow, will not catch a gopher. Make sure you are placing the trap in an active burrow.
  2. Not checking traps regularly: Checking traps periodically is essential to maintain the trap’s effectiveness and increase your chances of catching a gopher with no exclusion. If a trap is left unchecked for too long, it may give the gopher time to escape.
  3. Not using enough traps: Using only one trap is insufficient to catch a gopher. Use multiple traps in different locations to increase your chances of catching a gopher.

Dealing with Gophers After You Catch Them

Dealing with Gophers After You Catch Them

Once you have caught a gopher, there are a few options for what to do with it.

  1. Release it into the wild: If you want to release the gopher, make sure to release it at least five miles away from your property to prevent it from returning.

Release it in the wild to survive there and not return to your lawn or garden. 

  1. Dispose of it humanely: If you prefer not to release the gopher into the wild, you can dispose of it humanely. Some standard methods include using carbon dioxide or overdosing on baking soda and vinegar can do so effectively. 
If you’re dealing with gophers in your yard and want to learn more about how to control them, you might be interested in our articles on whether gophers are rodents and what attracts gophers. Our piece on whether gophers are rodents provides insight into their classification in the animal kingdom, while our article on what attracts gophers explores the factors that draw them to your yard.


Here are a few more related questions about trapping gophers.

Q1: Are gopher traps humane?

Gopher traps can be a humane method of pest control if used correctly. You should check the traps regularly, and the gopher should be released into the wild or disposed of humanely after being caught.

Q2: How long should I wait before checking my gopher trap?

You should check gopher traps every 24 hours to ensure that the trap still functions correctly and to prevent the gopher from unnecessarily suffering if caught.

Q3: Can gophers escape from traps?

Gophers are unlikely to escape from traps if the traps are set correctly and maintained properly. However, it is vital to check the traps regularly to ensure “no-chance” for gophers to escape.


Learning how to set a gopher trap can effectively control wildlife management and protect your garden or lawn. By understanding gopher behavior, choosing the right trap, and following the proper trapping techniques, you can minimize the damage caused by these pesky rodents. 

You should contact any pest control companies around you in case of a severe infestation of gophers. 

Remember always to handle traps and gophers carefully and humanely and to dispose of trapped gophers properly. With the right approach, you can successfully trap and remove gophers from your property, ensuring this wildlife removal and a healthy and thriving garden or lawn.

Lisa G

Meet Lisa G, the founder and author of With over 3 years of experience studying and observing various species of rodents. Lisa has established herself as a credible expert in the field. Her passion for these often-overlooked animals shines through in her in-depth articles and engaging writing style. Follow her blog to learn fascinating facts and gain a new appreciation for the furry creatures that share our world.

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