How to Trap and Catch a Gopher?- A Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners and Gardeners

Gophers are a common backyard pest that can cause significant damage to lawns, gardens, and landscapes. They are small, burrowing rodents known for their distinctive front teeth and ability to dig complex tunnel systems underground. 

While these backyard pests may seem harmless, their burrowing can destroy root systems and damage irrigation systems. Consequently, these make maintaining a healthy garden or lawn challenging.

For homeowners and gardeners, knowing the effective ways to catch a gopher is essential to pest control and garden protection. Gophers are known to be persistent and difficult to eradicate using traditional pest control companies’ methods, making trapping a practical option. 

Properly trapping and removing gophers from your property can help prevent further damage and protect the health of your lawn or garden. To effectively trap and catch gophers, it is essential to understand their behavior and the types of traps that you can use. 

Gopher species are active year-round and most active in the early morning and late afternoon. They are territorial and typically stay within their burrow systems, making identifying where to set traps easier. Read on to learn more about the comprehensive guide on how to trap and catch a gopher.

Types of Gopher Traps

Several types of gopher traps are available in the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right trap depends on several facts. They include your preference, the gopher infestation’s severity, your skillset in how to trap a gopher, and whether you want to catch it alive or kill it.

Types of Gopher Traps

Different types of gopher traps are discussed below. 

1. Live Traps

Live trapping is a humane option for those who do not want to harm the gopher. These trap types are typically made of wire mesh or plastic, allowing you to release the pest in a different location. 

Gopher Live Traps

There are several kinds of live traps, and they include the following.

  • Box Trap: Box traps are typically made of wire mesh and come in various sizes. They are DIY gopher traps designed to be placed over a gopher burrow or tunnel. 

The gopher will come across them as it travels through the tunnel. When the gopher enters the trap, it triggers the mechanism that closes the door, trapping the gopher inside.

  • Cage Trap: Cage traps are similar to box traps but are often made of sturdier materials like metal and have a more traditional trap door mechanism. Cage traps are typically larger than box traps and can be used to catch other types of rodents as well.


  • No harm is done to the gopher.
  • You can release the gopher far away from your property.
  • Reusable.


  • Requires frequent monitoring to ensure the gopher is not trapped for an extended period.
  • Not suitable for large infestations.

2. Lethal Traps

Lethal traps are designed to kill the gopher instantly. These traps are typically steel or plastic and come in various designs, such as pincher, choker, and harpoon traps. The trap kills the gopher by trapping it in a device that crushes its neck or head.

Gopher Lethal Traps

A variety of lethal traps are available, including the following.

  • Spring-Loaded Traps: Spring-loaded traps are among the most common humane lethal traps used for professional gopher control. They use a powerful spring mechanism to kill the gopher quickly when it triggers the trap. Spring-loaded traps are typically made of metal and are designed to be placed directly into the gopher burrow.
  • Cinch Traps: Cinch traps are another type of lethal trap that is effective for gopher control. Cinch traps use a wire loop tightened around the gopher when it triggers the trap. The wire loop is designed to kill the gopher quickly and humanely.
  • Tunnel Traps: Tunnel traps are a type of lethal trap that is designed to be placed inside the gopher burrow. These traps work by using a trigger mechanism that causes the trap to collapse around the gopher when it triggers the mechanism.


  • Effective for large infestations.
  • Quick and humane.


  • It can be dangerous to pets and children if not placed correctly.
  • Requires caution and skill when handling and setting up.

When purchasing gopher traps, look for high-quality traps that are durable and easy to use. Gopher traps can be purchased at your local hardware store or online. Consider the severity of the gopher infestation and your personal preferences when choosing the right trap for your needs.

Setting Up a Gopher Trap

Setting Up a Gopher Trap

Once you have chosen your trap, the next step is to set it up properly. Here are some step-by-step instructions for setting up a gopher trap:

  1. Identify the burrow system: Look for fresh mounds of soil indicating an active burrow system.
  2. Choose the right trap: Select a trap that matches the size of the burrow opening.
  3. Place the trap in the right location: Position the trap close to the entrance hole or the main tunnel, depending on the trap used. If using a snap trap, place it perpendicular to the burrow tunnel.
  4. Set the trap. Follow the instructions provided with your trap to set it properly. Test the trap to ensure it works properly before placing it in the burrow.
  5. Bait the trap: Baiting may be optional or required depending on the trap being used. If using bait, use a fresh and enticing option, such as peanut butter, apple slices, fresh vegetables, or other home remedies.
  6. Cover the trap: Cover the trap with soil or vegetation to create a dark and secure tunnel for the gopher to travel through.
  7. Check the trap: Check the trap daily to see if you have caught a gopher.

When setting up a gopher trap, it is essential to consider safety precautions and considerations. Wear gloves when handling the trap and bait to prevent leaving your scent behind. Additionally, be mindful of where you place the trap to avoid accidental injuries to yourself, pets, or wildlife.

Identifying the best location for your trap is critical to the success of this wildlife removal. Look for recent gopher activity like fresh mounds or chewed plant roots. Placing your trap in areas with high levels of gopher activity will increase your chances of success.

Checking and Removing Gopher Traps

Once you have set up your gopher trap, it is vital to check it regularly to see if you have caught any gophers. This will also help prevent other animals from getting into the trap and getting hurt.

It is essential to check the trap at least once daily, preferably in the morning or evening when gophers are most active. If you find a gopher in the trap, remove it immediately to prevent it from suffering or dying of stress.

Checking and Removing Gopher Traps

When removing a gopher from the trap, it is important to do so carefully to avoid injury to both the gopher and yourself. 

  • If you have caught a live gopher: You can use gloves to gently and carefully pick it up. Then release it into a nearby field or wooded area where it can thrive on helping in wildlife management.
  • If the gopher has died in the trap: Handling it cautiously is essential, as it may carry diseases. Use gloves to carefully remove the gopher from the trap, place it in a plastic bag, and dispose of it as per local regulations. This may involve burying it or taking it to a waste disposal site.

Remember to sanitize your gopher trap after each use to prevent the spreading of diseases and parasites. You can do this by washing it with soap and water and then disinfecting it with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water.

Finally, always read the instructions that come with your trap and follow them carefully to ensure safe and humane trapping and removal of gophers.

Gopher Prevention Strategies

In addition to trapping and catching gophers, there are several strategies you can use to prevent them from entering your yard or garden. Here are a few suggestions:

Gopher Prevention Strategies

1. Plant gopher-resistant vegetation

Certain plants, such as daffodils and garlic, are known to repel gophers. Planting these plants around the perimeter of your yard or garden can help keep gophers away since they have a strong smell. 

2. Install barriers

Installing a fence around the perimeter of your property can help keep gophers out. Use a fence with a mesh size of no more than 1 inch to ensure that gophers cannot squeeze through. 

You can also use wire mesh or hardware cloth to create a barrier around specific areas of your yard, such as a vegetable garden. Bury the barrier at least 1 foot below ground to prevent gophers from burrowing underneath it.

3. Maintain your yard

Keep your grass mowed and remove any brush or debris from your yard. This will make your yard less appealing to gophers and make it easier to spot any signs of gopher activity, such as fresh mounds of soil.

Gopher Prevention Strategies

In addition to these pest prevention strategies, ongoing monitoring and maintenance are vital in keeping your yard or garden gopher-free. Check your yard regularly for signs of gopher activity and take action as soon as you spot any. 

If you have had a gopher problem, consider setting up traps periodically to catch any new gophers that may have entered your yard. By taking a proactive approach to gopher prevention, you can help ensure that your yard or garden remains healthy and free from these pesky pests.

If you’re interested in learning more about gophers and their size, be sure to check out our articles on how big gophers can get and how big gophers are compared to other animals. Our piece on how big gophers can get explores their physical characteristics and size, while our article on how big gophers are compared to other animals provides a comparison of their size to other common animals


Here are a few additional related questions that you might be interested in.

Q1: Are gopher traps safe for pets and children?

Yes, gopher traps can be safe for pets and children if used correctly and kept out of reach. Remember that lethal traps can be dangerous, so it is essential to take precautions to prevent accidental injury.

Q2: Is it legal to trap and kill gophers in my area?

The legality of trapping and killing gophers may vary depending on the location. In some areas, gophers may be considered a protected species, so it may be illegal to trap or kill them without a special permit.


In conclusion, trapping and catching gophers is an essential aspect of pest control and garden protection for homeowners and gardeners. By understanding the behavior of gophers and the different types of traps available, you can effectively catch and remove them from your property.

Following proper trapping techniques and safety precautions is essential when setting up and checking gopher traps and properly disposing of captured gophers. Additionally, implementing gopher-prevention strategies can help maintain the exclusion of these pests from your yard or garden.

Remember to research and understand the trapping regulations in your area before attempting to trap or kill gophers. Following these guidelines can help control and prevent gopher infestations effectively in your yard or garden.

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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