Poison grain for gophers

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How to Get Rid of Gophers Naturally (without Poison or Gas)

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Gophers are a problem for many homeowners and can quickly destroy a natural grass lawn, vegetable garden, flowerbed or fruit trees. As they tunnel beneath the ground in search of food, they create tripping hazards with their holes and mounds, kill plants and trees as they eat the roots, and can even cause walkways or patios to collapse as their tunnel systems weaken the ground beneath them.

While many homeowners have never actually seen these ground dwellers in their gardens or on their lawns, you can see easily see the aftermath of their daily activities. Gophers rarely venture far from their tunnels and spend most of their time underground, which is why most methods of gopher control involve killing them in their homes.

The most common lethal gopher control methods include spreading poison pellets, gassing them in their tunnels, or setting traps. Using a garden hose to flood their tunnel systems is often considered a way to encourage them to leave your property, but it can drown them, so we can could include the garden hose method on the lethal list as well.

If you have other animals that use your yard, such as dogs or cats, using poison or traps is not a good idea and could injure, sicken or kill them. Gassing is generally considered a safe method to use if you have other animals, since you must keep your animals out of the area while the gassing is taking place, and the gas dissipates quickly. Therefore, your dogs or cats can go back to spending time in your yard the same day.

Poison and traps should also not be used if you have children or if children have access to your yard.

These lethal methods of gopher control are quite effective and widely used. However, none of them keep gophers out of your yard long term, and all of them involve killing animals that are just going about their daily lives and are not intentionally causing any harm.

For example, when you gas gophers in their tunnels, you may kill all or most of the gophers on your property; however, the gas dissipates almost immediately and you could have a new population of gophers established on your property within a couple of months.

Plus, the number of homeowners interested in killing inconvenient wildlife is shrinking as more folks search for ways to deter gophers, rats, deer and other animals humanely. After all, it is rarely the case that homeowners want to kill rodents and other wildlife for the sake of killing them; all they really want is for these animals to stop destroying their gardens and lawns. Therefore, non-lethal, natural ways to repel gophers and other unwanted animals are growing in popularity and are now more commonly used.

If you have gopher problems and would like to try to get rid of gophers humanely before turning to lethal methods, here are 13 of the most common, non-lethal ways to keep gophers out of your garden.

1. Gopher Mesh:

Install gopher mesh under natural grass lawns and areas with ornamental landscaping. Chicken wire is commonly used for this purpose, but it will not hold up nearly as well as galvanized gopher mesh (think: 1/2-inch hardware cloth), so get the right product for the job the first time to save yourself more headaches and expenses later.

Gopher mesh creates a barrier that prevents gophers from digging holes in your natural grass lawn or flowerbeds, but it does not keep them from eating roots that grow down through the mesh into the soil below. Therefore, they can still kill your plants by eating the roots as they tunnel beneath the mesh, but this usually does a good job of preventing the creation of holes.

2. Gopher mesh barriers:

Use the above-mentioned gopher mesh to create barriers around gardens, your lawn or your whole yard. For this method to be effective, you will need to dig a trench at least about one foot deep around the area you want to protect. Place the hardware cloth in the trench and make sure it is sticking up out of the ground at least a few inches. You can also build raised garden beds and create a barrier with gopher mesh on the ground before adding potting soil.

3. Gopher baskets:

In areas where gopher mesh is not an option, such as areas where you need to regularly dig or where you have sparsely placed plants that need protection, gopher baskets are the way to go. These gopher deterrents basically look like mesh baskets or bowls and are usually made from chicken wire or gopher mesh. Again, go for the gopher mesh if it is an option – or make your own baskets with leftover mesh from your lawn – but know that most garden centers sell gopher baskets made from chicken wire.

Gopher baskets are a good option for rose bushes, fruit trees, succulents and even vegetable gardens, if you have a significant gopher problem in your garden. As with mesh, the gophers can still eat roots that grow through the basket into the surrounding soil, but the gopher baskets will protect the main root system near the base of the plant and can significantly increase the chance of survival. This makes gopher baskets a good option for repelling gophers without killing them.

4. Live traps:

You can trap gophers for relocation just like you would trap a raccoon or other animal that you want to remove from your property without killing it. You can rent or buy live traps to do this yourself, or you can hire a wildlife removal company to do it for you. For many homeowners, it is easier to hire professionals, since trapping gophers yourself requires you to safely handle occupied traps and transport them somewhere to release them.

If you really do not want the gophers to die, make sure the company you choose actually releases them – some companies use live traps to make homeowners feel better, but then kill the animals after they remove them from the property.

5. Fabric softener sheets:

If you need to get rid of gophers in your yard without killing them, you may be able to repel them with something you probably already have in your laundry room. Gophers do not like the smell of dryer sheets, so sticking these fragrant sheets in every hole you can find can help repel gophers and keep them away from your lawn or gardens.

6. Peppermint oil:

To repel gophers naturally, try putting a few drops of peppermint oil on cotton balls, and then placing the cotton balls inside tunnel entrances. Gophers do not like the smell of peppermint, so this non-lethal gopher control method is a natural gopher repellent that can help rid your yard of these subterranean rodents.

7. Plants:

Most homeowners want to repel gophers because they are killing their lawn or plants, but there are some plants that gophers do not like. This gives you the opportunity to plan your landscaping in a way that can help repel gophers naturally. For example, you can try planting lavender, rosemary or salvia as border plants along fences or around your lawn. To protect your vegetable garden from gophers, try planting marigolds as a protective border. Marigolds are well known for repelling many unwanted garden insects as well, so this option can help save your garden from a variety of pests.

8. Ultrasonic repellents:

Ultrasonic gopher repellents are easy to find at garden centers, home improvement stores and online. Most of these devices are powered by either batteries or the sun, so you can place them almost anywhere in your yard. The emitters are above ground, so you will see them. This may be an issue for some homeowners, but you should be able to place them out of view of outdoor living areas.

The ultrasonic vibrations emitted from the device is unpleasant and can help repel gophers and keep them out of your yard.

9. Garlic stakes:

The combination of garlic and stakes may make this sound more like a vampire repellent, but this simple, natural gopher control method can be quite effective. Touted to last up to one year, these small stakes are considered safe and can be placed throughout your yard everywhere you see a hole. You should be able to find garlic gopher repellent stakes and similar options at your local garden center or online.

10. Artificial grass:

One way to keep gophers from ruining your natural grass lawn is to replace it with artificial grass. While artificial grass does not guarantee an end to your gopher problem, it does make your lawn area a less desirable spot for tunneling. One way that it does this is by removing the food source. If there are no roots to eat, gophers are much less likely to think the area is a good spot to tunnel. Additionally, properly installed artificial grass includes layers of materials that create an environment that is not conducive to digging.

11. Caster oil:

Using caster oil to get rid of gophers in your yard is probably the fastest-growing natural gopher control method. Many homeowners are seeing success with this method and it is generally considered an effective way to repel gophers. The most common way to use caster oil as a gopher repellent is to purchase caster oil granules, but you can also make your own caster oil deterrent at home.

To make your own gopher repellent, mix one part caster oil with one part dish soap. Mix three to five tablespoons of this mixture with water and pour it near holes and in areas where there is gopher activity.

You can also place caster beans in the tunnels so that the smell of the beans will repel the gophers, or you can plant caster bean plants around your yard to deter them. However, castor beans are poisonous, so if you have dogs or children, do not plant caster bean plants or place caster beans anywhere in your yard.

If you purchase the caster oil granules (which is much easier and more convenient than the homemade version), simply spread the granules in areas where you want to get rid of gophers in your yard. The most effective way to use this method is to start by spreading the granules in one section of your yard then, a few days later, spread the granules in another section of your yard. Continue to do sections every few days to push the gophers to your desired point of exit.

Since we rarely get rain in Southern California, you will need to water areas in which you distribute the granules to get the caster oil down into the soil. If you happen to apply this natural gopher deterrent when rain is in the forecast, you can just leave them alone and allow the rain do wet the ground for you.

12. Owl boxes:

Okay, this one should maybe be on the lethal list, but we can always hope that encouraging owls to hang out around your property will simply scare the gophers away. Installing owl boxes provides potential homes for owls and encourages them to live on your property. This, in turn, can naturally cut down on your gopher population by either scaring them away or ensuring their spot on the food chain.

You can always try plastic owls first – just remember that you need to move your fake owls often or your gophers will quickly realize that they are not a threat.

13. Fill holes:

Once you have encouraged your gophers to leave your yard, be sure to fill the holes to help deter future gophers from moving in.

Your Turn…

Have you used natural gopher control methods to repel gophers without killing them? Which methods have worked best for you?

The 8 best home remedies to get rid of moles and gophers

OK so you put all of your hard work into making your lawn look like a golf course and then you wake up one day and see gopher or mole tunnels running through the yard.

This is enough to make any homeowner go mad but the good news is there are ways to fight the war against moles and gophers, some natural, and some a little aggressive however we have done the research for you to lay your options for you so you can best decide how to fight and win the war against moles and gophers in your yard, sound good?

Some of these may surprise you

One natural method to fighting gophers is to create noise in your yard

As it turns out, moles and gophers are sensitive to noises, especially loud noises.

So adding some natural noisemakers such as wind chimes in your yard is a good natural way to annoy these critters enough to leave your lawn. What’s more you can take this method a step further and introduce a radio into your yard.. But more on that later.

Next.. I bet you didn’t know that you could repurpose your dog’s pet waste to fight the battle against moles and voles.

Most people don’t know this… But these critters are deterred by pet waste just as much as humans are, so placing your dog’s waste near the entry and exit points of the mole’s tunnels is a good way to naturally encourage these varmints to infest your neighbors yard and not yours.

Moreover, yet another natural way to fight moles is to strategically install plants throughout the yard that the moles naturally dislike.

Not only could this be an aesthetic way to win the battle but the good news these plants such as Castor bean, Crown imperial, and Narcissus are examples of mole-repelling plants. and are known for being effective for deterring moles and gophers out of your yard.

Like I mentioned earlier these these yard destroying varmints do not like loud noises

That said.. you could take an old radio you have sitting in the garage and place it in a Ziploc bag and then turn up the noise near the entry and exit points of the mole’s tunnels.

This is a natural way to scare these critters off of your property. I would recommend playing Creed or Nickelback LOL.

Just make sure you don’t turn it up too loud or else your neighbors will be upset too and then you got another problem on your hands.

Our fifth recommendation could be the most dangerous, however if you do not have children or pets it could the most effective way of dealing with moles.

You may not know this… but the way to use pesticides to fight moles is to exterminate their food source…

Think about it.. When the grubs and other immature stages of lawn pest insects are in high numbers, moles will be attracted to your lawn.

There are three methods to use in ridding your lawn of moles:

  1. Eliminate the food source of moles: insects, grubs, worms with a pesticide like Talstar which can be bought here
  2. Repel the mole. If the second step is not taken, the animal will actually increase its damaging tunnel activity in a desperate attempt to locate more food.
  3. Use a bait such as Mole Patrol to kill moles. This is a popular method with many people. Mole Patrol is a new bait which is proving to be more effective than conventional Zinc Phosphide baits. Talpirid Mole Bait is a new product for killing moles that is worm shaped and resembles a worm in texture and size.

To rid your property of the different pests these burrowing animals love to eat, treat the area with Talstar or Permethrin insecticides.

If your mole continues to tunnel (after its food source has been eliminated), spray Whole Control Repellent on the areas where the mole is active. Moles do not like this product. The smell and feel of the active ingredient will force the mole to move on. Whole Control repels moles, voles, burrowing animals with all natural ingredients.

The sixth way to deter moles from your property is the create a fishy scent they do do not like.

This is crazy.. if the thought of invasive and potentially dangerous pesticides in your yard does not seem like a good idea… Well the good news is that another non-invasive option if you have any left over fish from dinner then try placing it near the entry or exit points of the mole tunnels and the natural scent will persuade them to vacate your property.

I bet you didn’t know coffee grounds were a natural way to fight the battle against moles.

Put another way … you can recycle those used coffee grounds by scattering them over the tunnels themselves. The best part… the scent is annoying to these varmints just as much as their tunnels in your yard annoy you. This method in conjunction with methods 6 , 3 , and 2 would be a good natural combo attack on these yard destroying varmints.

Lastly.. one of the more invasive but effective methods to kill or ward off moles and gophers is to leverage the carbon monoxide exhaust from your vehicle.

These harmful emissions will persuade moles and gophers to get out of the yard or in some cases even kill them if that’s OK with you. Just make sure any leaks are covered up in the mole’s tunnels and this is a effective way to persuade moles and gophers that your yard is not their new home.

Here is a helpful video on how to pull this off

In conclusion these are eight natural or borderline un-natural alternatives to fight the battle and ultimately win your war against moles and gophers in your yard so they no longer destroy all of your hard work on creating the perfect looking golf course quality yard.

Shout out to Repellex for this handy infographic

Valerii Shkliaev/

Gophers may be cute and cuddly looking. They may even be a treasured team mascot. But they’re not treasured around the home and garden, where they can cause plenty of damage and destruction to plants and underground structures. Just one gopher can dig dozens of holes and an extensive series of tunnels looking for roots and plants to eat. These tunnels are unsightly and potentially dangerous to anyone walking above them. Furthermore, gophers may end up chewing on plastic water and drain pipes, causing damage there as well.

Take a tip from Bill Murray’s groundskeeper character in the movie “Caddyshack” on what NOT to do to get rid of gophers. Pumping water into gopher holes doesn’t work, as gophers can retreat to higher ground. Same with running exhaust fumes into the tunnels—gophers can escape until the gases dissipate.

How to get rid of gophers humanely

So what does help to get rid of gophers? Trapping is one method. Bait a large humane trap such as Havahart with fruit or vegetables. Set it up near the entrance to the gopher tunnel and wait. Within a few days, you should have your captive. Gophers are mostly solitary, so catching one may solve your problem. Simply take it several miles away from your property and release it in the wild, being careful to wear protective clothing and quickly stepping back and out of the way when releasing the trap.

Another way to get rid of gophers is to spread a repellent. Most gopher repellents contain castor oil and some have predator urine as well. Repellents typically work on both gophers and moles (another tunneling pest). Spread the repellent according to package directions. If you have a large yard, you may be instructed to treat one portion of the yard at a time, then wait a few days before following up on an untreated area. Smaller yards can be done all at once. Remember, though, spreading repellent may just chase the gopher into your neighbor’s yard.

Here are 14 nice things you can do to keep pests away.

There are poisons available, but some municipalities prohibit the killing of gophers. And there is also concern about accidentally poisoning children, pets or even scavenger animals that eat the poisoned gopher. To protect valuable plants or garden beds, you can install a barrier of hardware cloth, making sure it is buried at least 12 inches below ground to prevent tunneling.

These are our best tips for humane pest control for critter-proof gardens and planters.

Got voles? Here’s how to get rid of them.

Buy a Havahart trap now on Amazon.

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Trapping requires patience and effort, and can be successful if you can place them correctly. Gopher traps can be placed in lateral tunnels or in main tunnels. Finding fresh mounds is key. Fresh mounds have granulated soil, are built a bit taller and are un-compacted, and the soil color is dark. Old mounds are light colored and compacted. You can trap for gophers all year round.

For main tunnel placement:

  • Locate the main tunnel by locating the soil plug in a fresh mound. The main tunnel should be about a foot away from the plug. Use a probe to find the tunnel; the soil will give easily once the tunnel has been located.
  • Dig a small hole, large enough to place the trap. Clean out the excess soil.
  • Place two traps, facing the opposite way, in the tunnel. Attach traps to steaks with thin wire, so you can locate and check them easily later.
  • Replace dirt to block out light and air.
  • Check at least once a day, in the morning or evening.

For lateral tunnel placement:

  • Find the soil plug in a fresh mound. Find the freshest soil to locate the entrance and dig a small hole, cleaning out dirt to fit the trap into the tunnel.
  • Place about a foot into the mound, attaching to a steak with thin wire.
  • Don’t plug the hole; the air and light will alert the gopher to a breach in the system, and they will try to re-plug the entrance, encountering the trap.

Always read and follow all directions carefully for safe and successful gopher trapping.

Are you tired of dealing with a myriad of tunnels and small volcanos in your yard? You might have a mole or gopher problem. But before we get started on how to exterminate these pests, it is important to note that moles can have a positive impact on the health of your lawn or garden.

They plow and aerate the soil and eat potentially harmful insects and grubs. However, while moles do not eat your plants, the tunnels that they create can certainly disturb them. A few tunnels are not a big problem, but too many can create uneven soil, ridges in your lawn or garden and a lot of molehills.

Gophers, on the other hand, DO eat plants and can wreak havoc on a lawn or garden. You can determine that you have a gopher problem by the horseshoe-shaped mounds they create. So, how do you humanely rid your property of these animals?

About Moles and Gophers

Moles can be destructive to lawns and gardens, and they affect residential properties, parks, golf courses, and cemeteries. Their burrowing activities can produce disfiguring mounds and ridges that create a bed of nutrients for weeds to germinate.

Their diet mainly consists of earthworms, beetles grubs, ants and other insects that live in the soil. They also eat seeds and vegetable matter.

Moles

There are several different mole species in the United States. The most common mole is the Scalopus aguaticus, the Eastern Mole. This mole is found across the eastern United States and causes significant damage to lawns and gardens across the country.

The most troublesome species in the northwest region of the United States is the Scapanus townsend, the Townsend mole.

The state of California is most affected by the Scapanus latimanus, the broad-footed mole. All mole species have similar biologies and modes of operation, so what works for one species is generally also useful on another.

Moles are technically not rodents. Instead, they belong to the mammal family Insectivora and are related to shrews. The Eastern mole has a pointed nose and oversized front teeth. Large claws give it the ability to create tunnels beneath the ground. Moles can be up to eight inches long with fur that looks like velvet.

Tunnels

Moles create two different types of runways (tunnels): subsurface runways and deep runways. Subsurface runways are “feeding tunnels” that are located just beneath the surface of the soil. They can be seen as raised ridges running through the lawn.

Moles can extend runways at the rate of 100 feet per day if they so choose. Subsurface runways are used on a daily basis, an irregular basis or only once before being abandoned. Subsurface runways are connected to deep runways.

Deep runways are dug at around 12 inches below the surface of the soil and are marked by the mounds found at the entrances. Subsurface tunnels are more challenging to identify as they create tiny mounds.

Moles use these deep runways on a daily basis as main travel points to get between subsurface runways or nests. The soil removed from deep tunnels is collected outside the entrance to the tunnel through short vertical pathways to create volcano-shaped mounds. Gopher mounds are similar in construction, but instead of mountain-like, they are shaped like horseshoes.

The number of mounds you see in your yard cannot be taken as a direct indication of how many moles or gophers are present. In general, one acre of land is sufficient for the needs of up to three moles at a single time. However, yards that are next to forested areas or overgrown fields may be invaded by the moles that live in these areas.

Gophers

Pocket gophers get their name from their fur-lined pouches located on each side of the face. The pouches are used for carrying food. Pocket gophers can range from five to 14 inches in length and have fine, soft fur. Colors range from black to nearly white.

The underground burrows of pocket gophers can be up to several hundred feet long and range in depth from a few inches to several feet. Gophers in northern regions tend to have a single litter per year. In southern areas, they may have up to two litters per year.

If you are looking for natural ways to get rid of moles in the yard, consider less irrigation of your soil. Both moles and gophers love moisture, so if you limit your watering schedule, the soil will not be as attractive to them for their tunneling projects.

If you have sandy soil, you are more likely to have trouble with moles and gophers. Those of you with clay soil are less likely to have problems.

There are a few homemade methods that you can use when looking at getting rid of moles and gophers. In some cases, a combination of several methods may be your best bet.

Cayenne Pepper Powder

Cayenne pepper is a spicy pepper that ranks at 30,000 to 50,000 SHU on the Scoville Scale. This product can deter multiple animal species from harming your garden or lawn.

You can sprinkle the powder directly into active holes or mix it with water to create a spray. Combined with soapy water, veggie oil and garlic, it makes an excellent insecticide and can even be used to keep pets out of your garden. To determine whether a tunnel is active or not, cover it with a little dirt and see if it is cleared away after a few days.

Smelly Things

Smelly things such as fish, rotten food, garlic, and onions can be used to keep moles and gophers at bay. Just place these things as far down tunnels as possible and see how it works.

Cats and Dogs

Cats are natural deterrents of small pests. As natural hunters, cats can help keep the population of moles and gophers down.

The smell of a cat alone could be sufficient to deter little animals from taking up residence in your yard. A dog might also have the same effect, although they do not have the same hunter instinct as cats.

Noise

Think of the Grinch here, complaining about all the “noise, noise, noise” at Christmastime. Noise-emitting devices are often used to help control pests by producing a sound that is beyond the hearing range of humans.

If you feel especially adventurous, consider placing small (weatherproof) radios or speakers down the most active tunnels. Solar powered devices that release sound signals could also be helpful. Less expensive options include glass bottles with the lids removed that are then stuck diagonally into the ground.

The wind blowing across the tops of the bottles creates vibrations that moles and gophers are sensitive to. You can also consider purchasing wind chimes or spinners that you can stick in the ground around your yard to encourage them to find greener pastures.

Oils

Certain oils are beneficial in keeping moles and gophers away, as well as decreasing grub population. Neem oil works as an indirect mole deterrent by reducing their primary source of food, grubs.

If you have a Japanese beetle problem along with a mole/gopher problem, you will be able to deliver a double punch by eliminating both the harmful beetles and the moles. However, if you are more interested in balancing the ecosystem, you can consider purchasing beneficial nematodes to combat the grubs and use a different method to discourage the mole population.

Castor oil is derived from the seeds of the castor bean plant and has been used successfully as a mole deterrent. A combination of eight ounces of castor oil with 2 T. liquid soap added to one gallon of water makes an excellent natural deterrent for moles and gophers.

Spray this solution each month over your lawn and into tunnels. Repeat this process after heavy rains. You can also consider sprinkling castor seeds around the yard as a deterrent. However, as castor seeds contain ricin, an extremely toxic poison, you’ll need to use caution when handling them. If you have pets or children, you may wish to avoid the castor seed option altogether.

Certain plants can also help to deter moles. The most commonly used is the Euphorbia lathrysi, better known by its common name, the Mole Plant. An attractive, yet poisonous plant that grows well in hardiness zones five through nine.

The Mole Plant is invasive, so you’ll want to pluck the flowers before it has a chance to go to seed. It is also poisonous so those of you with young children or pets may want to consider another plant such as chocolate lilies or garlic.

Physical Barriers

Using wire mesh can be a useful way to keep moles and voles out of your garden. For moles, you’ll want to sink the wire into the ground to a depth of 30 inches with at least six inches of height above ground.

For voles and gophers, you’ll want to increase the height to 24 inches above the ground. If it’s too expensive to do your entire garden or yard, you can consider installing a small fence around certain areas instead.

Traps

Traditional mouse traps or live traps can be washed with soapy water while wearing gloves to remove the smell. You can use peanut butter as bait. Place the trap into a mole hole or right next to it using a small box to cover it.

Be sure to place a heavy object on top to prevent the trap and box from blowing away. You can also purchase a mole trap from online or your local hardware store. Both live traps and kill traps are available.

Trapping is the most reliable of all the mole control methods. However, it also requires the most patience. Moles can detect and spring any trap that is set improperly, stealing the bait without being caught. A trap that is placed strategically tends to yield results within 24 hours.

Trapping works best when done when mole and gopher activity is at its peak in the spring and the fall. It is best if you take action to minimize damage as soon as evidence of mole activity becomes prevalent. One added benefit of spring trapping is the elimination of pregnant female moles.

As with moles, gophers can be controlled with the use of traps. The key to success is the location of active main tunnels and the correct placement. With gophers, traps placed in opposing directions at main tunnels entrances/exits will be most effective.

You can locate the main runway by probing the soil with a sharp stick or a rod one to two feet away from the burrow plug. Upon setting the trap, you will need to cover the opening with grass or cardboard to hide the disturbance. If you don’t catch anything within four days, move the traps to a new location.

Poison

If you are attempting to keep moles and gophers from harming your garden, you probably don’t want to use true poisons as a deterrent. If you are more concerned about decorative shrubbery and plants, poisons may be okay.

Be sure to use them in an area where pets and children will not have access to them. Mothballs and ammonia are two solutions that have been tried with success.

Gophers and moles can be a pain in the neck, but with the proper techniques, they can be controlled effectively and humanely. A combination of traps, poisons and natural deterrents can be an effective strategy against the infestation of these burrowing mammals.

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Kill Gophers While You Sleep

Methods And Tips To Stop Gopher Damage
Without Stressing Out!

Kill gophers? The concept keeps some folks awake at night! It doesn’t have to be so hard!
How many holes in your lawn this season? One? How many plants have you lost? One? Then it’s officially time to kill gophers!

Would you like to face this challenge with a new sense of optimism? You are smarter than they are. Want to prove it?

When it’s time to choose your weapon, do you know the techniques that make a certain approach more successful?
Are you aware of important safety concerns with some products?
What are the alternatives?

It’s time for action. Don’t lose another plant. You can now use the best gopher killer for your situation, with the best results!

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What Are The Options To Kill Gophers?

One natural control method is ideal, but not suitable for many people. If it’s viable for you, these guys are great, and they will work for food!

Hawks and owls, snakes, cats and some dogs can be all that you need.
In large open areas, promoting these predators to kill gophers makes sense.

However, for most homeowners, your choices will be:

  • Traps
  • Poison bait
  • Gassers
  • Professional help

Gopher Traps

Traps are very effective, but they may be more practical for smaller areas than they would be for acreage. They are less convenient to use than some extermination efforts, but they do offer the satisfaction of knowing when you’ve killed one of the nasty critters.

There are several styles of traps, and the manner in which they are used may depend on whether you plan to use them in the main gopher tunnel, or the exit runway that leads to the mound of dirt above ground. (More discussion on this later.)

Whatever type of trap you select, realize that your best success rate comes with placing the trap in the main runway. This is typically 5-10 inches below ground. There is no guarantee that the gopher will reappear at a mound or exit hole if you place the trap at surface level.

The exit tunnel, or lateral runway, is not always evident. Occasionally you will find an open hole at one side of a gopher mound. Usually the gopher will plug this, as shown in the photo. You may or may not be able locate and dig out this path.

If you can, follow this down to the main tunnel. If it is not obvious, poke a metal rod, like a long screwdriver, into the ground on the flat side of the dirt mound.

The tunnel could be 4-5″ deep, even 10″ or more. It will not be right under the dirt mound. The hole would lead down like an angled ramp, going away from the mound. Gradually explore further from the mound as you probe in the general area. The probe will push down quickly for two inches when you enter the tunnel. Then dig down with a shovel to get access and see which way the tunnel goes.

So you dig down and find the main tunnel. Do you know what direction the gopher will travel 80% of the time? That’s an easy guess. If you only use one trap, the gopher approaches from the back side. That’s why so many people are unsuccessful when they try to kill gophers with a trap.

Use two traps in one tunnel, pointing in opposite directions. You will have better results this way. If you get two traps, but put one trap in hole A and another trap in hole B, thinking you’ll kill at least one gopher and maybe two, you’ll be very disappointed when the more common result is two empty traps.

Instead, two traps in hole A equals one dead gopher. Then repeat with both traps in hole B. Use a methodical system like this to improve your percentages when you use traps to kill gophers.

Why should you buy two traps when you don’t know if one will work? Do you think it may not be worth the expense? If that’s your reasoning, the gopher is smarter than you! You can try setting and relocating the trap until you get lucky. Personally, I think the frustration of seeing the trap buried from behind is a lot harder to swallow than the cost of another trap.

Here are the most common traps available:

  • Macabee twisted-wire trap
  • Imitation macabee wire trap
  • Red Box trap
  • Black Hole trap
  • Black Box trap
  • Death Clutch wire trap

Detailed information and tips on selecting and using traps to kill gophers can be found in this article Choosing and Using Gopher Traps.

You can also access a photo tutorial on How To Set A Macabee Gopher Trap, which will be helpful for any of the twisted wire style traps.

One final word about traps. A number of people search for info using the term ‘getting rid of gofers’ or find a ‘gofer trap’. That may be how these rascals got named, since you’ll try anything to kill them, and if one method doesn’t work, you’ll go-fer another one!

Gopher Poisons

Poison bait is an effective way to kill gophers. It may be the most practical approach if you have large areas that are continually infested. You invest a little time to distribute the bait in the tunnels. It keeps guard till the next invasion comes along. Need to kill gophers? That’s the quick and easy way.

Now for the drawback to quick and easy. Traditionally the most common poison in gopher bait was strychnine. Nasty stuff. Veterinarians shudder when they receive a sick pet and hear the words “got into some gopher bait.”
Strychnine bait is getting harder and harder to locate, even though it is the most practical treatment for folks with acreage to protect. (As bad as it sounds, there is such a small amount used in any one spot that it is listed by environmental regulatory agencies as acceptable even in crop areas.)

There is another type of bait that uses zinc phosphide as the active ingredient. Most retail products for homeowners seem to be going with this poison. It is not as toxic to pets or predatory animals from secondary poisoning. It will still kill a gopher with one feeding, as it works by causing the formation of a toxic gas in the rodent’s digestive tract, a process that does not happen in mammals.

Mouse or rat bait is not typically labeled for use as a gopher killer. It still gets recommended and used that way. Whether or not the gopher eats it, or if it is safe, depends on the variety of bait (and the gopher’s dietary preferences). It can take multiple feedings before it kills any of these rodents. Learn more about how to get rid of gophers by Using Gopher Poisons and Bait.

Gopher Gassers

Unlike the blow-them-up method (See this inflammatory info.), this one doesn’t involve fire or explosives. It uses a smoke ‘em and choke ‘em approach.

Small gas producing sticks or flares are lit and placed in the tunnel where they smolder. Seal that opening. Be careful not to extinguish the fuse. Look around for any other exit holes that are leaking fumes and seal those quickly.

The gopher can be killed by either the fumes themselves, or the lack of oxygen. This technique is effective about 50% of the time. You know how averages work. One guy gets lucky 75-90% of the time. The other guy is unlucky in the same proportion.

Best technique with gassers to kill gophers? Use a bunch of them, all in the same application, rather than planning to use them at intermittent intervals.

This particular brand, The Giant Destroyer Gas Bomb offers 4 larger size flares that put out a significant amount of fumes, having a good success rate.

If the gopher is not in the tunnel, there is no residual effect. Gophers may be able to smell the fumes from a distance and plug the tunnel. Setting off several flares in multiple locations will increase your odds.

The good news? The ingredients are typically fertilizer elements, so the gassers are safe to use in most locations. Just be cautious using anything that burns, especially in areas with dry grass or brush.

When is it time to hire
a professional exterminator?

Perhaps learning how to kill gophers just isn’t appropriate for your needs. Does the do-it-yourself approach do you in? Then consider getting a hired gun. This may be appropriate if you:

  • Need quick, immediate results. Got a new lawn to save? …a wedding reception or party this week? …some pricey plants in danger?
  • Have a very large area that is infested, or a smaller area heavily infested.
  • Are surrounded by open field areas on one or more sides.
  • Have a non-helpful neighbor who doesn’t attempt to control the gophers on his side of the fence.

Licensed applicators have access to materials that you cannot buy over the counter. They should be trained in where and how to use these products. They can typically get fast knockdown with certain chemicals if that is your criteria. Or they can use baits that are longer lasting.

Inquire as to their specific experience and background. A big name lawn care service, even a pest yard treatment service that is good at killing fleas, doesn’t necessarily understand gopher problems.

Get it in writing if they offer a guarantee for several months. Referrals may be your best bet for quality results.

It may be practical to bring in a professional to kill gophers when things are out of control. After this initial knock-down, you can perform the necessary work to prevent another major problem.

Are You Ever Finished With Gopher Killing?

Is there a permanent solution to gophers? Some people claim to have found success with repellant products. These can be mechanical or electronic, organic or chemical.

They don’t work in every situation. They might be sufficiently helpful for you, at least as an alternative way to protect certain parts of your lawn, yard or garden. They won’t always eliminate the need to kill gophers.

A future article will look at these products and make recommendations. Just realize that success in moving them away from one area only sends the trouble elsewhere.
(If you happen to hear your neighbor bragging about his new solar powered gopher repeller, schedule some time on your side of the fence with your traps!

One last creative idea for you. One fellow wanted to kill gophers, without being bothered to do it himself. He offered to pay a bounty to the neighbor’s kids for each gopher they could trap. They took care of more than his problem. The entire neighborhood was cleared of the pests in a short time!
He paid out more than he expected, but it was worth it!

Be smart! Don’t settle for a lawn that looks like a mini-motocross course with mounds and holes everywhere! Happy hunting!

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