It’s never a good feeling to work long and hard on your garden only to find out you have a gopher problem. These digging rodents can be serious pests to homeowners, causing loads of damage to lawns, gardens, and even farms.
Still, it’s important to keep in mind gophers also play an important role in our ecosystem. In fact, they can even benefit lawns and gardens in small numbers by helping to aerate the soil, and by encouraging healthy plant and vegetation growth.
However, if these rodents get out of control, they can cause major issues and have even been known to completely destroy entire farms. But how do you know if you are dealing with a gopher problem and not a mole or vole in your yard or garden?
Today, we are going to help you find out. Join us as we learn all about the gopher, his behaviors and habits, how he differs from other digging animals like moles and voles, and how you can control any issues you are having with this digging pest in your yard.
What Is A Gopher?
Gophers are rodents and commonly known as pocket-gophers
Often referred to as a pocket gopher, a gopher is a small digging rodent with very large teeth and large claws meant for digging. These rodents are native to North America and are common in the United States, although they are rarely seen by homeowners as they live underground.
Gophers dig extensive underground tunnels that can range in length from 200 to 2,000 feet and can be up to six feet deep. They eat vegetation including weeds, plants, roots, tubers, and vegetables, which can lead to damaged gardens, dead plants, and upturned pots.
One of the main reasons these rodents are referred to by many as “pocket gophers” is due to their large pocket-lined cheeks where they store their food.
You can distinguish a gopher from a vole and mole by his large teeth, shorter tail, short fur, and unique style of digging.
Speaking of digging, let’s talk a bit more about how to recognize the signs of gopher damage in your garden or lawn.
How To Recognize A Gopher Problem
Gophers dig large holes in lawns and fields, causing damage to lawns, plants, and landscaping.
As we mentioned above, gophers can be beneficial. However, they can also cause major problems to gardens and farms in large numbers. Luckily, these rodents are primarily solitary animals that tend to keep to themselves. However, they can produce up to three litters a year with five to six young in each litter, which can lead to more extensive damage.
Furthermore, some of their tunnels can be home to thousands of other gophers at a time.
That said, there are several digging rodents and animals that gophers are often mistaken for, including the mole and vole.
While gophers are active during all hours of the day, they spend the majority of their time underground, which means it’s likely you won’t see them. This could make it difficult to determine what is digging up your lawn. However, if you are vigilant, you will be able to tell if you are dealing with a gopher issue or some other digging pest.
You may have a gopher problem if you notice:
- Crescent or horseshoe shaped mounds of dirt around holes
- Freshly plugged holes near these crescent shaped mounds
Unlike moles, gophers do not dig surface tunnels. This means if you find sunken areas of grass or large, volcanic-like mounds of dirt, you’re dealing with a mole, not a gopher. And unlike voles, who create shallow runways all over the surface of lawns, you would hardly notice a gopher’s presence if it weren’t for the destruction of your yard and those interesting horseshoe shaped dirt piles.
But how do you get rid of gophers and keep them from coming back? Let’s talk about some of the best gopher control methods available below.
How To Get Rid Of Gophers – Popular Control Methods
There are three common and effective methods you can use to get rid of these digging pests.
There are a few different methods people use when it comes to getting rid of pests like gophers, and some are more effective than others. The most popular methods of rodent control include:
Let’s learn a bit more about each method below.
One of the most effective ways to eliminate a gopher problem is to use trapping. Many people find that live traps are a humane and simple way to catch and remove gophers from their yard.
However, when using a live trap, you must drive at least three to five miles away from your property to release the gopher so he doesn’t come back. Other trap options include lethal traps like snap traps and poison baited traps.
Repellents work hand-in-hand with preventatives when it comes to gopher control. Most experts recommend using repellents along with other methods of removal to ensure you are able to keep these rodents away from your yard in the long term.
The most popular repellents include gopher mesh or gopher baskets, castor oil, deterrent sprays, ultrasonic noise makers, and gopher-repellent plants like lavender or gopher surge.
Using rodenticides and poisons are some of the most popular gopher control methods because they are effective and work quickly. However, poisoning only works in the short term and will not keep these rodents from returning to your yard.
Furthermore, poisons can be harmful to people and pets, and they can also be harmful to other, beneficial wildlife. That said, if you have a serious gopher problem, you may need to turn to more drastic measures like poisoning.
The Below Video Further Discusses A Few Different Methods You Can Use To Control Gopher Issues
How To Get Rid Of Gophers Using Traps
Traps are some of the most effective methods of removing digging rodents.
Let’s talk first about using traps as a control method for these rodents. Live traps are some of our favorite rodent control methods because they are humane, effective, and work well when used alongside preventative measures like repellents.
That said, live traps may require more maintenance and, if you have a number of gophers in your yard, it may be difficult to trap them all. For this reason, we have also listed a few lethal traps that work as well.
First on our list is a kill trap by Tomcat. Tomcat makes a number of popular rodent traps and repellents, but this one works simply and similarly to a traditional snap mouse trap. It snaps closed and catches the rodent, killing it on impact.
You can clean and reset this trap as many times as you need to in order to catch the gophers wreaking havoc in your yard.
Fasmov Live Trap
If you prefer to use the live trap method for control and removal, we recommend taking a look at the Fasmov Humane Live Small Animal Trap above. We like that this trap is weather resistant so it won’t rust, and it’s easy to clean and bait.
It allows you to safely capture gophers and other rodents like squirrels, moles, mice, and voels and relocate them away from your property without the use of poisons or lethal traps. Again, when used alongside preventative measures like repellents and deterrents, live traps are considered very effective.
H&B Luxuries Trap
H&B Luxuries is another live trap option for rodent removal. This trap is resistant to rust and completely escapes proof. It works to not only catch gophers but also moles, voles, and other pests causing issues in your yard.
The trap can be used repeatedly and is simple to clean and bait. It also makes relocation easy as it is lightweight and portable.
Wire Tek 1001 EasySet Trap
The Wire Tek Easy Set trap uses a spring loaded trigger to quickly kill and eliminate a gopher problem. It is a lethal trap that is simple to set and allows you to place it near freshly dug holes and areas in your garden or yard where you have noticed rodent activity.
We like that this trap is a safe alternative to using poisons, especially in homes with children and pets.
How To Get Rid Of Gophers Using Repellents
Repellents work well to help keep gophers from returning to your yard.
It’s highly important to use repellents along with other forms of gopher control. Repellents will not only help to eliminate any current problem you may be experiencing, but they will also help keep these rodents from returning.
Let’s take a look at some of our favorite repellents and deterrents below.
Repellex Granular Repellent
Many digging rodents hate castor oil, which is one of the reasons Repellex made our list. This deterrent is a granule repellent that is made with natural, plant-based ingredients and can be used to repel gophers, voles, and moles.
This product covers up to 24,000 square feet, which is great news if you have a large backyard. It is also safe to use around children and pets, but the directions advise against using Repellex on edible plants live vegetables and herbs, so don’t use this in your vegetable garden.
Molemax Repellent Granules
No products found.
Like the above repellent, this product’s active ingredient is castor oil, meaning it is both effective and safe to use around children and pets.
Castor Oil Rodent Repellent
The running theme here when it comes to digging rodent control seems to be castor oil, so we’ve gone ahead and included 100% pure castor oil on our gopher repellent list.
Castor oil is a natural and safe way to repel a number of rodents and pests like moles, voles. gophers, rabbits, and skunks. These animals hate the scent of castor oil, which is why many professional exterminators even use this natural product for pest removal.
The above order comes in three different size options and can treat up to 5,000 square feet. What we like best about this product is that it is specifically designed to repel digging rodents , by using ground penetrating technology.
Solar Sonic Repellents
No products found.
Sonic repellents work well to help deter a number of garden pets like moles, voles, gophers, and the likes. While there is a debate about how well these repellents work, we do like that they are solar powered and use sounds that irritate these rodents and repel them from wanting to dig in your yard.
These are stakes that push into the ground and use soundwaves that are safe and harm-free to people and pets. When used along with other repellents and gopher control remedies, many of the reviews state this type of method works well.
Goplus Gopher Mesh
Last, we have gopher mesh. Gopher mesh is a tried and tested repellent for those of you looking to keep these rodents from eating your plants and other vegetation. It is meant to be installed around gardens, flower boxes, and any other area you want to keep rodent-free.
This is a completely kid and pet friendly way to deter digging rodents and eliminate their access to a common food source, which in turn may lead to them going elsewhere to find a meal.
How To Get Rid Of Gophers Using Poisons
Using poisons to deter Gophers is effective but can be dangerous to people and pets.
Because poisons can be dangerous to people and pets and can even be harmful to our environment and other wildlife, we recommend only using them if the other methods of gopher control haven’t worked.
Let’s take a look at a popular rodenticide below.
Bonide Moletox Gopher Killer
The above product is an effective mole and gopher poison used specifically by those looking to control ground-digging pests. The active ingredient is zinc phosphate and it uses a corn bait, which gophers will be attracted to.
Remember, this poison is toxic and can be harmful to humans and pets. Furthermore, it must be placed in the burrows directly in order for the rodents to find them. Also keep in mind that, once you do kill the gophers, you will need to still use repellents to get rid of them.
Would you prefer not to use poisons or traps to get rid of these digging pests? Aren’t there any natural ways you can go about getting rid of this problem on your own?
You bet! Let’s take a look at some popular home remedies you can use for gopher control.
How To Get Rid Of Gophers Using Home Remedies
Planting lavender is a beautiful and effective gopher deterrent.
Gophers can be a pain and cause serious damage to your yard, but there are plenty of home remedies you can use to get rid of them. In fact, you may already have lots of rodent repellent ingredients in your kitchen pantry or bathroom cabinet.
You can deter gophers by using the following home remedies:
- Put Up Gopher Mesh
As we mentioned above, gopher mesh and gopher baskets are a popular way many homeowners are protecting their gardens and yards from these peksy, veggie eating rodents.
Simply apply gopher mesh around areas of your yard you don’t want rodents digging in or eating. You can protect anything from flower pots to trees, to vegetable gardens and more. Just make sure the mesh you get is specifically designed to protect against digging rodents.
- Plant Gopher-Repelling Plants In Your Yard
Gophers are repelled by some of the craziest things, including some beautiful plants we humans love! This is great news if you are looking to add some color or fragrance to your yard.
Some of the plants these rodents hate most include gopher surge, daffodils, lavender, rosemary, and marigolds.
However, make sure you do plenty of research on the gopher-repelling plants you plan to add to your garden, as some may be toxic to pets. Gopher surge, for example, can cause irritation to human skin and can be poisonous to dogs if ingested.
- Dryer Sheets
Most of us have fabric softener sheets just hanging out in our laundry room. But did you know these heavenly smelling sheets have other uses too? In fact, fabric softener sheets can be used to repel gophers with their overpowering smell. All you need to do is stuff some dryer sheets in the rodent holes you find in your yard, and soon those suckers will be packing their bags!
Dryer sheets are also a good deterrent for bed bugs as well, and many homeowners put them in their drawers to help repel those nasty pests. Who knew?
- Caster Oil
No surprise here. Many rodents can’t stand the smell of castor oil and it’s super simple to use this product to help get rid of digging pests in your yard or garden. You can purchase caster oil in granules to help repel gophers, but you can use pure rodent castor oil you have at home and it will be just as effective.
How do you use it? Experts recommend mixing equal parts castor oil and dish soap, add it to water, and pour it into the gopher holes in your yard.
- Invite Their Natural Predators
Predators like owls and hawks eat rodents like gophers, so if you invite these predators to hang around your yard, chances are you won’t be seeing these pesky rodents very often. You can either invite live predators or purchase predator scarecrows.
If you want to encourage live owls to visit, we recommend purchasing owl boxes, which provide these birds with a safe place to live and nest on your property.
- Peppermint Oil
Just as they hate castor oil, gophers are also repelled by peppermint oil. This is a simple and safe way to deter these rodents in your yard while keeping your family and pets safe.
Simply soak cotton balls with peppermint oil and place them in the rodent holes. You can also place these soaked cotton balls around your garden to help keep gophers from entering.
- Fill Their Holes
Last, fill the gopher holes. Don’t make it easy for them to come and go as they please. Even if you get rid of these digging rodents, new ones may turn up and find that the old tunnels make for some fabulous real estate. So don’t leave them.
Gopher Facts – What You Should Know
Pocket Gophers are herbivores that eat all types of vegetation and plants.
Gophers live all across North America and are a common pest to many American yards and farms. They live primarily underground, digging out intricate tunnel systems and chambers.
While gophers are solitary creatures, their tunnel systems can sometimes house thousands of traveling gophers at a time.
These rodents are herbivores who prefer to eat all types of vegetation. Their favorite foods include roots and tubers, although they’ll also eat the tops of plants as well.
There are about 13 different species of gopher in the United States, but the pocket gopher in particular is most commonly to blame for garden damage. The pocket gopher lives approximately five years.
Gophers typically reproduce between one to three times a year and produce up to six babies in each litter, although most litters contain just three to four young. Baby gophers reach maturity in as little as five weeks.
Tips On Preventing A Future Gopher Problem
You can prevent future rodent problems by following a few simple steps.
When working on finding a solution for digging rodent removal, your success in the long term will depend on the methods you use before and after the infestation. Simply removing these rodents out of your yard will only stem the problem temporarily, as new rodents will likely move in and replace the old ones.
This is why using preventative measures after you have removed gophers is key. Below we have listed some of the best preventative measures you can use to help keep these rodents out of your yard for good.
- Landscape And Remove Weeds
Gophers are herbivores who like to eat all kinds of vegetation. The more weeding you have around your yard, the more active these rodents will be. One of the best ways to help deter these pests and keep them from coming back is by removing as much of their food source as possible and by protecting gardens with gopher mesh and other repellents.
- Invite Predators
As we mentioned above, encouraging predators like owls and hawks to hang around your property will help to keep these rodents from returning. Owl scarecrows are an inexpensive and effective method, but you can also purchase owl boxes to lure live owls as well.
- Use Gopher Mesh
We think gopher mesh is the one of the best control methods when it comes to protecting your garden. The right gopher mesh will keep your vegetables, plants, and other valuable vegetation from becoming rodent food, so don’t be hesitant to use it.
- Use Ultrasonic Repellents
Ultrasonic repellents are a safe, harm-free way to keep these rodents from returning to your yard. Best of all, many of them are solar powered, so you simply need to set them and forget them.
- Plant Gopher Repellent Plants
Remember, rodents hate overpowering scents from plants like lavender, marigolds, gopher surge, and more. Do some research and find out which gopher-repellent plants would do best in your garden. Planting them will help not only get rid of any current rodent problems you’re having, but they will also help deter future gophers from returning.
- Use Artificial Grass
This may seem extreme, but if you find you are having a very severe gopher issue in your yard, you may need to turn to using artificial grass. If they can’t eat it or dig in it, they won’t live in it!
We hope you now have a better idea of how to keep these pesky digging rodents from infiltrating your lawn and garden. What are your thoughts on gophers? We would love to hear from you. Tell us what methods you feel would be best for gopher removal in the comment section below.
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.