What Do Gophers Hate the Most?

The gopher outbreak in your garden space and lawns is nothing new! And many homeowners suffer from damaged garden areas and plants as they aren’t aware of the ways to tackle these challenges. 

So before applying different methods, you first need to know gopher behavior and preferences and what they hate! Gophers love to dig tunnels and store their favorite food beneath the soil. These tunnels are also their nesting sites. 

But what do gophers hate the most? What they hate is quite simple! These burrowing rodents can’t withstand strong scents. Lavender, castor oil, coffee grounds, and peppermint oil are some on the list. 

Here in this blog, we’ll provide you with the ultimate guide about what gophers hate and the 4 most effective DIY methods to halt their outbreaks!  

Gopher Behavior and Preferences: An Overview

Gopher Behavior and Preferences

These small burrowing rodents are quite known for their distinctive burrowing habits! Let’s take a look at their behavior, diet, and habitat preferences. It will be useful, especially when dealing with gophers. 

  • Burrowing Habits: Gophers love to dig tunnels on any soil type for foraging and cachingfood! They usually construct long and complex tunnels to store their food, live to nest, and even travel from one feeding space to another. 
  • Habitat Preferences: Burrowing rodents prefer living in areas rich in agriculture, meadows, and grasslands, as these areas come with soft land that is easy to dig. Gophers also prefer deserts and forests. 
  • Diet: Gopher feeding habits aren’t complicated as these rodents are herbivores with strong teeth; they prefer tubers, roots, and anything they find underneath the soil surface. 

These rodents aren’t also picky with vegetables, so they binge on mostly all plant types. However, dandelions and alfalfa are the two favorite plants of these rodents. 

Blubs, barks, flowering plants, seeds, and grasses are some options they love to include in their diets! 

Well, that goes with their overall behavior and habitat preferences. 

Impact of gopher behavior on gardens

When it comes to the gopher’s impacts on your gardens and lawns, it can get worse than ever! As these burrowing rodents love to dig tunnels, there are chances that your lawns and soils to erode and destroy the entire irrigation system. 

Impact of gopher behavior on gardens

That’s not all; this heavy and complex digging can destroy your plant roots and prevent proper drainage. 

Gophers can also attract pests that can further disrupt your lawns and gardens. Plus, the soil mound these rodents create can attract certain insects that can extend lawn damage and even destroy your plants. 

Comparison of gopher behavior to other types of rodent behavior

Comparison of gopher behavior to other types of rodent behavior

Here’s a comparison table to aid you with the overall characteristic differences between the different rodent types: 

Characteristics GopherGround SquirrelsMoles
Type of Burrowing AnimalRodentRodentMammal
DietHerbivores; feeds on underground plants like bulbs, tubers, and rootsOmnivores; feed on insects, seeds, fruits, and small vertebrates (i.e., lizards)Carnivores; feed on worms, insects, and small invertebrates 
Most ActiveDayDayNight
InteractionSolitary and doesn’t interact much except during the mating seasonSocial and loves to stay in coloniesSolitary and doesn’t interact much except during the mating season

Effective Gopher Deterrents: Gophers Simply Hate These![1] 

Gophers are highly sensitive to smell, and they can’t tolerate strong scents. So, using natural and chemical pest prevention can be a way to get rid of gophers. However, using barn owls can also do the trick for you! Here are some effective gopher deterrents, including natural and chemical options.

Effective Gopher Deterrents

1. Natural Deterrents 

Natural deterrents for rodents like gophers are widely available; some even exist in our pantries! Some examples of natural deterrents for gophers are coffee grounds, fish oil, peppermint oil, sage, and eucalyptus.

Placing these deterrents all over your garden space or lawn will help cause the garden pests to flee and abandon your yard. The scent from these elements will repel most backyard pests and insects and keep your garden of flowers and crops safe. 

Gopher Natural Deterrents

Possible Benefits

●     Eco-friendly and does not contain chemicals 

●     IEasy to prepare the mixture with these ingredients 

●     Works without any detrimental or damaging effects on the property or the animals 


●     Not cost-effective 

●     It might require repeating the process for a very long time to see any difference 

When to Use

The ideal time to use natural deterrents is around spring and fall. This is the time when these rodents are seen all over the place digging up holes, tunnels, and burrows.

2. Chemical Deterrents 

Chemical deterrents can come in handy as these are pretty strong compared to natural deterrents. 

These deterrents can mostly include castor oil, sulfur, and certain repellent granules. And to make these more effective, you can mix them with water and spray them all over your space. 

The smell can then spread throughout the infested areas, and the gophers will be down and out in no time. 

Gopher Chemical Deterrents

Possible Benefits

●     The chemicals are very potent and effective in terms of getting rid of the gophers 

●     Ensures removal of insecticides and pesticides as well 

●     Prevents resurfacing of insecticides 


●     The chemicals are not eco-friendly and likely to cause environmental damage 

When to Use

Chemical deterrents can be very helpful when all other solutions for removing gophers have failed. This is very potent and very effective, which is why it should be the last resort. 

3. Owl Nesting Boxes 

Barn owls have earned themselves quite the reputation for being effective in terms of gopher deterrents. These owls are extreme and fierce predators with impeccable eyesight that misses out on nothing. 

When these birds are out and about on a gopher-infested yard or lawn, you can rest assured knowing you will definitely see results pretty quickly. 

Setting up an owl nesting box in your gopher-infested yard will help draw in these owls easily. Not only that, but you also give them a safe space to live in and offer them food, i.e., gophers, for free while getting rid of the infestation for you. 

Possible Benefits

●     Free of cost gopher deterrent 

●     No chemicals, scents, or smells are left behind 

●     Barn owls can easily tackle gophers of all ages and sizes 


●     May leave behind gopher leftovers and bits and bones all over to clean up 

When to Use

If you face intense infestation and want to tackle the situation while being eco-friendly, this is the way for you. 

Comparison of Gopher Deterrents With Other Rodent Deterrents

Comparison of Gopher Deterrents With Other Rodent Deterrents

Here’s a comparison table to help you understand the different deterrent types for gophers and other rodents

Deterrent TypeGophersGround SquirrelsMoles
RepellentsPeppermint oil and castor oilMothballs or garlic spraysGarlic and castor oil
ExclusionFencing  Fencing Fencing
Traps Scissor-jaw traps and box trapsTunnel trapsScissor-jaw traps
Gas TrapsAny poisonous gasAny poisonous gasAny poisonous gas

Effective DIY Gopher Control Methods

Effective DIY Gopher Control Methods

In this section, you’ll learn about the top 4 most effective gopher pest control methods and the gopher burrow systems. So, don’t skip any of the following: 

1. Gassing

Gassing can be an effective method to control gophers. And it can be super easy to set up when you know where their tunnels are. Below are the steps that you have to follow:

Step-1: Find the gopher mound or active tunnel

Step-2: Gather extra rocks and soil to close the mound or tunnel

Step-3: Dig a small hole into the tunnel or mound to insert your gasser cartridge

Step-4: Insert the gasser cartridge fuse and light it up 

Step-5: Cover the holes so that no gas can escape 

Note: If you see the gas escaping from certain areas, immediately cover them up with dirt or soil. 

Possible Benefits

●     It can be done easily and in no time with effective results 

●     Reliable form of deterrent and prevents further infestation for a long time 

●     Kills other existing insects and pests in the environment 


●     It can be proven to be unhealthy and dangerous for living beings around temporarily 

When to use

Opting for this method is ideal when you need a quick resolution to your gopher infestation with ease and convenience and is also widely available. 

2. Baiting

Baiting can be effective, especially when you know the how-tos well! Here’s how you can proceed: 

Step-1: Use probes to find out the main tunnels of the gopher

Step-2: Once you’ve figured out the exact location, dig a hole there

Step-3: Now, apply your bait (if it’s some sort of poison, read the labels carefully to ensure no wildlife removal or hamper takes place)

Step-4: Finally, recover the hole and ensure you don’t cover the bait with any dirt or soil

Possible Benefits

●     Poses no threat to the gopher or endangers its life 

●     Easily attracts gophers with the bait 

●     Causes no danger to the plants, crops, or flowers around 


●     Can cause a potential resurfacing of gophers 

When to use

The method is ideal when the number of gophers on your property has significantly been rising. 

3. Trapping

When it comes to trapping, patience is all you need! You can get rid of gophers by placing traps in the main tunnel or the lateral tunnels. Here’s how it goes: 

Gopher Trapping

Main Tunnel

Step-1: Locate the gopher main tunnel. You can use a probe to find the spot easily

Step-2: Dig a hole that’s large enough to fit your trap

Step-3: Put two traps facing the opposite sides of the tunnel

Step-4: Place sufficient dirt to get the air and light-blocked

Lateral Tunnel

Step-1: Start by looking for a soil plug in the fresh mound

Step-2: Locate the gopher entrance and dig a small hole there

Step-3: Clean off the dirt to place your trap

Step-4: Attach the trap to a stake with any thin wire

Step-5: Make sure not to plug the hole as it’ll alert the gopher

Possible Benefits

●     Safely traps the gopher without causing any harm or distress to the rodent 

●     Causes no damage to the animals, pets, or humans on the site

●     Helps control the infestation immediately 


●     Likely resurfacing of gopher infestation if the tunnels remain 

When to use

Trapping regulations and methods can be used at any point during the infestation as it helps bring down their population immediately. 

4. Exclusion Fencing

This method of gopher control can be a long-lasting solution. And you can carry out the process in several ways. 

Step-1: Find the places you want to protect (it can be your lawn or garden space).

Step-2: Dig a trench and then line it up. If you want, you can also put the fence beneath the lawn to prevent burrowing.

Step-3: Make sure the mesh wires have an opening less than ½” x 1”

Gopher Exclusion Fencing

Possible Benefits

●     Keeps your yard safe from other animals such as squirrels or chipmunks 

●     Cost-efficient and easily doable even by beginners

●     A long-lasting solution


●     The mesh wires may require an entire replacement when messed up 

When to use

Exclusion fencing can come handy to protect your garden bed or crops without any artificial gassing, chemicals, or fumes. 

Professional Gopher Control Services or DIY Gopher Control Methods: Which is Better? 

When it comes to gopher controls, it depends on how you would like to get rid of these rodent outbreaks. If you think taking experts’ help will get your job done fast, choosing professional gopher control services is what you need. However, if cost is an issue, DIY methods will be your best pick. 

Professional Gopher Control Services

Here’s how professional pest control companies and DIY methods differ: 

  • Professional services are considered more effective than DIY because of the specialized equipment experts use. 
  • DIY lets you choose the methods you want to pick to control any gopher species outbreak. Therefore, you can align the methods according to your needs. 
  • If you want to save time, professional services will have the upper hand since experts entirely deal with it. 
  • DIY methods usually don’t require the involvement of any harmful chemicals, but certain professional services can use such chemicals.  
If you’re wondering what gophers hate the most, you might also be interested in our articles on what gopher poop looks like and how to catch a gopher with a milk jug. Our article on what gopher poop looks like provides insights into identifying gopher droppings and understanding their appearance. Additionally, if you’re looking for effective methods to catch gophers, our article on how to catch a gopher with a milk jug offers a step-by-step guide on using this technique. By exploring these articles, you’ll gain valuable information about gopher behavior, their droppings, and strategies for dealing with them.


Here are a few more additional questions you might be asking now.

Q: Do gophers hibernate? 

Gophers are mostly active rodents and don’t prefer hibernating during rough weather or winter. Instead, they dig deep tunnels and tend to take shelter beneath the soil line. 

Q: Are gophers harmful to humans? 

No, not really! However, the mounds they create can be a concern for young children, as there are chances to trip over them. Other than that, they aren’t dangerous, but they surely can cause damage to your environment. 

Q: How deep do gophers burrow? 

Gophers usually prefer burrowing somewhere from 6 to 12 inches below the soil. And somewhere in this depth, they store their food or nest. 


So, after going through this blog, you should now have all your doubts cleared regarding what gophers hate and how you can control the gopher outbreak with some effective DIY methods. 

Moreover, to effectively deal with these rodents, knowing the gopher’s behavior and preferences are important. Their food preferences, burrowing system, and habitant will aid you in controlling the gophers’ outbreak. Plus, remember that gophers are sensitive to environmental factors, so deal accordingly and also ensure you don’t harm other living creatures. 

To further prevent the damage caused by gophers, you should research the gophers’ impact on the overall ecosystem and investigate the effectiveness of the deterrents. You can also develop IPM (Integrated Pest Management) to reduce the attack of these rodents.

Yet, if you face troubles, you can always consult with an expert to help you out! 

Lisa G

Meet Lisa G, the founder and author of RodentsFact.com. 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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