Pest Away Tips

Getting Rid of Gophers: Effective Prevention and Control Methods

Introduction to Gophers

Gophers are small burrowing rodents that can be found throughout many parts of the world. They are known for eating plants, digging tunnels, and creating holes that can be a nuisance for farmers and homeowners.

Despite their reputation as pests, gophers are fascinating creatures that are well adapted to life underground. In this article, we will explore the physical characteristics of gophers, how to identify them, and the difference between gophers, moles, and voles.

We will also analyze the behavior of gophers, their size and weight, their habitat and distribution, their lifespan and reproduction, and their diet.

Physical Characteristics of Gophers

Gophers are small rodents that generally range in size from 5 to 14 inches long. They have thick fur coats that protect them from the elements and allow them to live underground.

Gophers have large, chisel-like incisors that are used for burrowing, gnawing, and cutting plant roots. In addition, gophers have large cheek pouches that are used for storing food as they dig.

Difference between Gophers, Moles, and Voles

Gophers, moles, and voles are all small burrowing animals with some physical similarities. However, there are several key differences between these animals.

Gophers are the largest of the three and have a more robust body shape. They have large teeth and cheek pouches and dig deep, permanent tunnels underground.

Moles are smaller than gophers and have a more streamlined body shape. They have poorly developed eyes and ears but have powerful front claws that are used for digging.

Moles also have hairless snouts that help them sense vibrations in the soil. Voles are the smallest of the three and have a rounder, more mouse-like appearance.

They have short tails, short legs, and are generally herbivorous.

Gopher Behavior

Size and Weight of Gophers

Gophers are small rodents that can range in weight from 0.5 to 2.5 pounds depending on the species. They have a stocky build and a rounded head.

Males are generally larger than females.

Habitat and Distribution of Gophers

Gophers are found throughout many parts of the world, including North and South America, Asia, and Europe. They prefer loose, well-drained soil types and generally inhabit open grasslands, agricultural fields, and meadows.

Gophers can tolerate a wide range of climates, but they generally prefer temperate regions and are most active during the spring and summer months.

Lifespan and Reproduction of Gophers

Gophers have a relatively short lifespan, with most living only 1 to 3 years. They are sexually mature at around 1 year of age and can produce multiple litters in a year.

Female gophers generally give birth to 4 to 6 young at a time that are born hairless and blind. Young gophers are fully weaned by around 4 weeks of age and are ready to mate when they are around 6 months old.

Diet of Gophers

Gophers are herbivores that feed on a wide range of plants, including grasses, roots, bulbs, and tubers. They are especially fond of alfalfa and root crops such as carrots and potatoes.

Gophers will eat both living and dead plant materials and can quickly devastate a garden or agricultural field. They are active throughout the year but are most active during the growing season when food is plentiful.


Gophers are fascinating creatures that are well adapted to life underground. While they have a reputation as pests, they are an important part of many ecosystems and play a vital role in the soil ecosystem.

In this article, we explored the physical characteristics of gophers, how to identify them, and the difference between gophers, moles, and voles. We also analyzed the behavior of gophers, their size and weight, their habitat and distribution, their lifespan and reproduction, and their diet.

By understanding more about these small rodents, we can learn to live alongside them and appreciate their unique place in the natural world.

Damage Caused by Gophers

Gophers are notorious pests that can cause significant damage to vegetation, gardens, and crops. They are known for burrowing through soil and eating a wide range of plants.

The vegetation damage can be devastating, leading to the loss of crops, damage to landscaping, and destruction in yards. The following sections explore the impact of gophers as pests, the types of damage they cause to vegetation, and the prevention and intervention methods used to mitigate gopher damage.

Gophers as Pests

Gophers are considered pests because of the significant damage they can cause to vegetation and landscapes. Their burrowing activities lead to the destruction of roots and plants, destroying gardens and agricultural fields.

Gophers are also known to dig unsightly holes and tunnels that can be dangerous to livestock and even humans. They can cause erosion by weakening the soil structures and increase the likelihood of sinkholes and other issues.

Types of Vegetation

Damage Caused by Gophers

The damage caused by gophers can be difficult to control. They have a profound effect on the plants, including the roots, stems, and leaves.

They also eat the stem at or below the soil level. Below are the types of vegetation damage commonly caused by gophers.

– Roots and Vegetables: Gophers often consume the bulbs and roots of plants. They chew at the base of newly planted saplings and seedlings, causing them to wither and die.

In the case of crops and vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, they chew through the tubers, rendering them useless.

– Landscaping: Gophers can also be detrimental to the overall landscaping of a property.

They construct extensive tunnels and burrows that stretch to multiple hectares, resulting in unsightly holes and spaces. – Soil Erosion: Their burrowing also has an adverse impact on the topsoil by breaking down the soil structure, making it prone to erosion.

This leads to the formation of sinkholes, which can be both dangerous and costly to repair.

Prevention and Intervention Methods

Gopher Control is necessary for controlling gopher populations and their detrimental impact on crops, landscaping, and gardens. It can range from lethal methods to non-chemical repellents, each with their advantages and drawbacks.

Lethal Methods

Several lethal methods are available to deter gophers from damaging crops and landscaping spaces. It includes trapping, baiting, and fumigation.

– Trapping: The most common and practical approach to controlling gopher populations. Body-gripping traps are the most effective because they kill the gopher swiftly, with minimal suffering, without requiring any toxic chemicals.

The traps need to be checked frequently, and the gophers removed to prevent a proliferation of the number of carcasses.

– Baiting: An effective method for gopher control, baiting is often used in areas with high-density gopher populations.

It involves using toxic baits that are laced with suitable chemicals and placed inside the gopher runways. The poisonous bait ingested by the gopher will kill the rodent within hours.

– Fumigation: This method is suitable for eliminating gophers when trapping and baiting have failed. Fumigation involves filling up the burrows with a highly toxic gas, such as aluminum phosphide, which suffocates the rodents.

It is a hazardous process that requires professional assistance. Non-

Lethal Methods

The use of non-chemical repellents against gophers is an effective way of controlling populations without killing them.

– Frightening devices: Ultrasonic devices and vibration machines can be effective in driving gophers away. These devices function by emitting a frequency or ultrasonic sound waves that frighten gophers.

– Non-chemical repellents: These are products that use non-toxic ingredients to deter gophers from the property. They often comprise predator urine and repellent plants such as castor bean plants and oleander.

These protect the plants through scent, taste, and predator attraction.

– Chemical Repellents: These contain chemical ingredients that deter gophers from properties.

They are sprayed around the burrows and entrances to discourage da gophers from digging around the area. – Natural Repellents: These are environmentally friendly and natural.

They can be made from castor oil or spearmint oil, both of which act as gopher repellents. The oils create a scent that can irritate the gophers; as a result, they avoid the area.

– Barriers: Barriers can be installed around vegetation to block the entry of gophers to these areas. Wire mesh barriers have been an effective technique for deterring gophers for years.

The mesh barrier is deployed about 18 inches underground, making it harder for the rodents to dig through it.

– Predator Attraction: Attracting natural predators such as domestic cats or owls is an effective strategy for deterring gophers.

This method, however, might be less effective in areas with scarce natural predators and might introduce other problems such as predation or parasite exposure.


Gophers are known to cause extensive damage to crops, gardens, and landscaping, and the cost of repair can be substantial. While lethal methods, such as trapping and baiting, are effective in controlling the population, they can have several drawbacks.

Non-chemical repellents such as natural or chemical repellents and barriers are a less controversial approach to deterring gophers. By understanding the different prevention and intervention methods, one can efficiently and effectively manage gopher populations and protect crops and landscaping spaces.

Getting Rid of Gophers in Specific Places

Gophers can cause severe damage in fields, gardens, and areas under one’s house. The size of these locations can range from vast areas such as pastures to smaller spaces such as gardens.

Consequently, the methods used to eliminate gophers depend on the size of the space and the level of gopher activity. The following sections explore methods of getting rid of these rodents in specific places.

Getting Rid of Gophers in Pastures

Pastures are areas where a large number of animals graze, and a gopher infestation can lead to serious economic losses. The presence of gopher holes can cause injuries to livestock and damage to machinery.

The following methods show how to get rid of gophers in pastures. – Trapping: This method is ideal for large areas such as pastures.

Live traps and body-grip traps are effective and should be set up in a grid-like pattern across the pasture at gopher entry points. – Gassing: This method involves releasing toxic gases into the gopher burrows that suffocate the rodents.

It is an effective technique for large pastures and should be only carried out by professionals.

– Baiting: This method involves placing toxic bait in the gopher burrows that slowly poison the rodents.

The bait should be put in secure bait boxes to prevent non-target species from feeding on it.

Getting Rid of Gophers in Gardens

Smaller spaces such as gardens can prove difficult to control gopher activity. This is because gophers require less food and have a smaller activity range in such areas, and are thus difficult to deter.

However, the following methods can be used to control gophers in small areas. – Trapping: Live traps and body-grip traps can be used in small areas such as gardens via the gopher’s runs or entry points.

– Baiting: Baiting can also be used in gardens, but it may pose a risk of exposure to non-target species and harmful chemicals. – Repellents: Non-chemical repellents can also be used in small gardens, such as ultrasonic/vibration devices, castor oil spray, and natural repellents.

Getting Rid of Gophers Under the House

Gophers can pose a significant challenge when they infest areas under the house. There are several methods used to get rid of them and prevent future infestations.

– Baiting: Baiting the burrows under the house can effectively rid it of gophers. The bait needs to be placed properly to avoid exposing non-target species to the harmful chemicals.

– Trapping: Body-grip traps and live traps can be used strategically when placed in areas the gophers enter or exit. – Repellents: Repellents can also be used to prevent the rodent’s entry into the house.

These include castor oil sprays, peppermint, and ammonia natural repellents. – Accessibility: Access to the area under the house will determine the effectiveness of any method.

It is essential to seal off any entry points and develop prevention methods to keep gophers away.

Preventing Gophers

Prevention is always the best method of avoiding gopher infestations. The following preventive measures are effective ways of keeping gophers out of your property.

– Frightening devices: Ultrasonic and vibration devices can desensitize gophers from burrowing or even make the area intolerable. They are most effective when used in combination with other repellent methods.

– Other repellents: Non-toxic repellents such as citrus sprays, castor oil-based sprays, or eucalyptus sprays can also be used to deter gophers from entering gardens or around the house. – Gopher-resistant plants: Certain species of plants are known to repel gophers, such as rosemary, oleander, citrus, lavender, onion, garlic, and eucalyptus.

Additional species can be used as “trap crops,” serving as an alternative food source to attract gophers away from desired plants. – Natural gopher predators: Encouraging natural gopher predators such as barn owls, snakes, or coyotes can help control the population.

A gopher’s natural predator scent will deter it.


Controlling and preventing gopher infestations requires a combination of methods, including trapping, baiting, repellents, and natural predators, among others. The technique used varies depending on the area’s size, accessibility, and the level of gopher activity.

Preventive measures such as gopher-resistant plants, repellents, and natural predator attraction can help prevent future infestations. By following these techniques, one can keep their property safe from extensive damage that gophers can cause.

How to Catch a Gopher

Trapping is one of the most effective ways to control a gopher infestation. A successful catch requires specific techniques, including locating the gopher tunnels and setting an appropriate trap.

Once caught, proper removal techniques are crucial to avoid harm to both the gopher and the user. The following sections describe in detail the essential steps to follow when trapping a gopher.

Setting a Successful Trap

Several types of gopher traps are available on the market, including the GopherHawk trap for efficient and humane trapping. The following steps can guide the user in correctly setting up the trap:


Locate tunnels: It is essential to locate the gopher tunnels before setting the trap. Mounds of soil near entry and exit points of the tunnels can show where the primary tunnels are.

Secondary tunnels branch out from the

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