Gopher Control – Managing Gophers and Keeping Them Away

Gophers are professionals when it comes to locating your favorite plants and eating them, giving you headache while leaving your neighbor’s lawn unharmed. This is the type of vermin they portray. Every time you attempt to catch them when they are out, they will just run back to their tunnels and you are left helpless while they laugh at you the whole time.

Where are they Commonly Found?

Gophers or commonly referred to as pocket gophers, are rodents that like to burrow, under the family Geomyidea. They are usually spotted in Central America and North America. These gophers are famous for their tunneling actions or activities and feed on every root they encounter from digging.

There are four species of pocket gopher that can be located or found in Colorado. They are widely distributed in this vast area in totally different areas. Potential reason is because they require different ecological demand.

Northern Pocket Gopher

The northern pocket gopher or Thomomys talpoides can be located in mountainous places, from the deep sandy soils in plains to shallow gravel. This kinds of gophers are considered to contain the biggest population of gophers.

Botta’s Pocket Gopher or Valley Pocket Gopher (former name)

The Botta’s pocket gopher or Thomomys bottae can commonly be found in warm valleys, preferably in well-developed soils in Colorado.

Plains Pocket Gopher

The Plains Pocket Gopher or Geomys bursarius, these gophers are commonly found in abundant silty and sandy soils of the plains but these kinds of gopher is not abundant in compressed soil.

Yellow-Faced Pocket Gopher

The Yellow-Faced Pocket Gopher or Pappogeomys castanops, they can be found in a small area where plains pocket gophers are abundant in southeastern part of Colorado as they are restricted to drier states.

Knowing Gopher’s Underground Activities before Taking Action

We need to know how these gophers build their tunnels first before taking any action to permanently keep them away from our properties or lawns. Once we know a little bit on how these gophers dig and how they build their tunnels, it will be easier for us to put such traps to obtain a higher chance of catching them and getting rid of them for good, of course with the help of some methods that we will use.

What Do Gophers Eat?

Vegetations from above ground are usually at stake. From below, these gophers dig tunnels where roots of vegetation from above ground can be seen, especially when these vegetation are green and luscious, though these pocket gophers prefer Alfalfa, a perennial flowering plant that is cultivated as an essential crop in many countries. Aside from eating vegetation, plants and even trees (by eating the roots and stem), they are also the cause of damaged underground utility cables and even irrigation pipes.

Gophers specialize in digging tunnels underground using their incisors and claws. Using their forefeet and chest, they dig the soil out of the burrow, which forms a fan-shaped soil pile about 12 to 18inches wide and as high as 4-6inches. Once you see these mounds with this pattern, then it will likely be a gopher tunnel. A single pocket gopher usually digs one to three mounds a day.

Effective Ways and Methods to Trap Gophers

Now your lawn has been damaged and you want to make them pay for the trouble and damage they had given you. These methods are already used and some of them have their bad side (damage to other biological life forms), some are successful and some are not because of inappropriate timing and lack of plan to keep these gophers away. But before following the methods mentioned below, verify laws regarding killing gophers as they may be illegal in your country or state.

Gopher Traps

Yes trapping is the commonly used method to get rid of these rodents. Though there are many types of trapping method that you can possibly use against them but the results may vary in how you put the traps in their respective tunnels.

You can use body-gripping traps to get the gophers out from your lawn. These body-gripping traps are available in pest control stores or hardware stores. Visit your nearest hardware or pest control center and inquire for these types of traps. Dig a hole in between two active mounds using a shovel and place each trap in opposite direction underground, tie these two body-gripping traps to a stick that is stuck to the ground in a vertical position or anything that is above ground that is capable of holding the trap when the victim is caught. When the trap is set in between the mounds (about 6-8inches into the tunnel), cover the hole you just dug with a sheet of black plastic or burlap so that no light is capable of entering through the hole. Do not forget to place a trap in their main entrance or lateral about 12-18inches from the mound. It will also help a lot if you use fresh rosemary and rub it to remove the human scent from the trap. Leave the traps and check twice daily. Since gophers leave and visit their tunnels every few hours. Aside from body-gripping traps, you can place net traps to catch these rodents and take care of them.

Fuel Up the Gophers Mounds

Attach a hose from your car’s exhaust to the gopher’s tunnel and flood their tunnel network by using your car’s exhaust. Your car will produce carbon monoxide, giving the pocket gophers a hard time to breath. Before doing this method, make sure to close all possible holes the gophers may get access to, at least cover the holes with dirt. Once you took care of the holes, start your car and idle your vehicle for about 15-30mins to flood the whole underground tunnel. Repeat if necessary.

How to Kill Gophers

Again, refer to the law(s) in your place before applying this action to make sure that you won’t end up in jail. As this method is deadly, you need to proceed with utmost caution. Poison baits are very effective against these rodents; strychnine is a very effective poison against them but always read the label and instructions before proceeding. This method is not recommended though if you have a pet in your property as there is a big chance that they will eat a poison infected gopher. If they do eat the poisoned gopher, your pet will likely get infected and suffer as well, worse, die.

Flood the Gophers

There is a big catch when you use this method. Before doing or applying this method, be sure to check the gophers and track where they go, by the time they are inside their tunnels, quickly cover other possible exit areas and leave one area secured; this will be where you will start your devastation. Once you covered the other exit, grab a garden house and flood the entire tunnel network. As soon as the water fills the tunnel network, they will quickly run to any exit point. Take a shovel and quickly hit any gophers that pop out from the only area they are capable of escaping. This method is about half of the time effective but after the killing spree, this will leave a muddy mess.

Remember that when the gophers are still alive after your first attempt, don’t be shocked if they just move to another area in your garden. And if this happens, use the method again in the new mound or tunnel they made, this time they will likely move away from your garden completely.

Smoke them Gophers

Inquire for gopher flares from your nearest pest control center. Using this will fill the tunnel with smoke, giving the gophers a hard time to breath. If done correctly, they will die from suffocation. Do this as needed to give these gophers a hard time and instead coming back, they will move to another place.

Give the Gophers the Predator They Deserve

Try putting a gopher snake in active holes. This will eliminate a large amount of these gophers. Most of the gopher snake tries to make sure that the area is safe from gophers before moving to another area, others will stay for a year before moving to another area and some of them will stick in the area for more than a year. With this, gophers will never think twice on moving to another area.

Perhaps a cat will do the job, releasing a cat will give the gophers goose bumps. Domestic cats will work well against these rodents. To get the most from cats, choose species that are likely to have a really sharp hunting ability. This will give the gophers a very hard time.

Plant Euphorbias near Gopher Tunnels

Gophers really hate these plants as these plants contain thorns all over it. To get the most out of this plant, try planting as much euphorbia plants in gopher infested area. This way, they will likely decide to move to a safer place to stay rather than staying in a euphorbia lawn. Now surely no gopher wants to get these thorns.

Save Your Plants

Gophers really hate the stench of fertilizers that are made from sewage treatment plants like Topper or Kellogg’s Nitrohumus. This will help you and your plants. Before getting a hold of this type of fertilizer, be sure to wear gloves. Add these fertilizers and place them near the area you want to protect, about 3inches wide and at least 12inches deep will do the job. Reminder when using this method: make sure that the area where you will put the fertilizer is safe from children and pets. Always keep it far from fruits or vegetables that you will eat as well.

Gum Gum and Away!

Many tried to use this method but failed in the long run. Main reason of failure is because the gum got human scent, and gophers are smart rodents. When planting the gum, never forget to use gloves and never let your human scent get attached to it. Place the gum near or on fresh mound. As soon as the gopher eats this, they will die eventually in their burrow.

Hire a Professional and Get the Job Done

If all these methods fail, then it would likely be the time that you call a pest control professional to get rid of the gopher. Some of the pest control professional use Aluminum Phosphide to produce a fast-acting highly toxic phosphine gas. This Aluminum Phosphide will react to moisture in the air and soil and the poison will be produced. This poison is not the same as the poison chemical out there as this one will not have any residue and even no secondary poisoning, which means, when your pet discovered the dead carcass of the gopher and eat it, there will be zero percent chance that your pet will be poisoned. This may sound a hundred percent effective but the price is costly as it sounds. Many companies use this method but they also offer guarantees to get the job done.

Get the Job Done by Your Self

Sure you are determined to get these gophers out from your lawn but hiring a professional is just not an option for you when it comes to pricing. So why not try to shoot these gophers? You can use a good old Crossman 760 pumpmaster. This is cheaper than hiring a professional to do the job plus you can have some fun hitting the gophers.

If you would notice, most of the methods require you to have access to gopher mounds so if you are having a hard time locating the tunnel for about 30 seconds or so, try a different fresh mound. Always keep in mind that gophers can easily smell human scent, so always use a glove and never get attached to any of the materials that you are going to use against them, if you ever get attached to any material you will use against them, then might as well rub the affected are with rosemary. Also never forget to refer to your area’s law about gophers before doing any action.