Gopher Control: How to Identify, Prevent and Get Rid of Gophers

Often mistaken as squirrels, gophers are common garden pests. They have sharp teeth and claws, which are the ones that are responsible for making them cause an infestation that is more serious than what you can expect from squirrels. With this, it is important to know how to get rid of gophers to control their population and manage their infestation. This will restrict the damages that they can bring.

Belonging to the Geomyidae family, they are also often called pocket gophers. The average weight is .5 pound while the approximate length of their body is 6 to 8 inches. They have a tail that is about 1 to 2 inches in length. Most of them will have a brown fur, which makes them camouflage on the soil. The most distinct feature is the large cheek pouch with fur lining. They have small eyes and large teeth, which can grow up to 14 inches in a year.

Despite the fact that gophers can be a nuisance in the garden or at home, it is also important to take note of the fact that they can also be beneficial for the ecosystem. They are instrumental in the improvement of the fertility of the soil. Nonetheless, even with such benefit, it is still important to have an integrated pest management approach to make sure that they won’t cause significant damages.

The Gopher

Gophers Can be a Nuisance in the Garden

Gopher’s Habitat

Gophers are fossorial animals. This means that they dig soil and they live underground. They are common in woodlands, mountains, and grass prairies. It is also unsurprising to see them in the garden, much like squirrels and chipmunks. During the day, they build complex tunnels underground, which also provides them with a shield from external elements that could kill them. They make use of their teeth and legs to dig their tunnels and to push dirt out. Their population is the highest when the soil is friable and when there is large vegetation, especially when it consists mainly of bulbs, tubers, and roots.

Identifying Gopher’s Damage

Plants Affected

Because gophers burrow under the ground, they like root crops. Some of the most common hosts include onion, garlic, and carrot. They also feed on peas, sweet potato, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and lettuce, among others.

Symptoms

The following are some of the signs that could easily give you an idea that gophers are present:

  • In trees, one of the most common symptoms is stem girdling and clipping. Root pruning will also be possible. To add, because they dig the soil, another sign is the exposure of the root of the host tree.
  • The appearance of soil mounds is also an indication of the presence of gophers. As they create burrows, they push loose dirt on the ground, and hence, they create mounds of soil.
  • They will cause an irregular appearance on garden crops and ornamental plants, among other hosts. With their sharp teeth and powerful legs, it does not take long before they can cause physical damages to a plant.

Results of Infestation

In cases of severe infestation, the outcomes can be frustrating. They do not only affect the health of the plants and kill them, but they also impact the appearance of the lawn. Their burrowing activity can make the ground unattractive. Irrigation pipes and utility cables that are installed underground can also be damaged. They can also affect the supply of water, and hence, crippling irrigation systems.

Gopher Damage

Their Burrowing Activity Can Make the Ground Unattractive

How to Get Rid of Gophers

Natural and Organic Solutions

For the successful control and elimination of gopher in a manner that is safe and effective, the following are some of the solutions that can prove to be promising:

  • Among others, one of the best solutions is to plant varieties that can resist the pest. This will give you peace of mind knowing that they are unattractive for gophers. Some of the plants that you can grow in the garden include rhubarb, beans, peas, and squash.
  • Habitat modification is another solution you might want to consider. Altering the external environment and making the surroundings unattractive for gophers will keep your plants and home safe. Reduce their food sources and remove debris in the garden.
  • Cat litter will also be useful in getting rid of gophers. All that you have to do is to place the litter near the tunnels made by gophers. When they smell it, they might think that there is a cat nearby, which also happens to be their natural enemy. This will prevent them from going out and damaging your plants.
  • Aside from cat litter, there are other natural ways to keep gophers out through emitting a scent that they hate. Fish, castor oil, tabasco sauce, mothballs, dryer sheets, and coffee grounds are just some of the things that you can use.
  • Noise is another thing that gophers dislike. With this, when you spot gophers, you can turn on the radio. A wind chime by the patio will also help to distract the gophers and to prevent them from invading your private space.
  • Trapping gophers is another solution that is worth giving a shot. Using a two-pronged pincher trap is one of the easiest solutions. Some of the best products that you might want to purchase include Gophinator and Macabee. Proper location and setup of the trap are some of the factors that will have an impact on their effectiveness.
  • The exhaust of your car is another solution that will work. Start by covering the existing holes in the garden. Be sure to expose at least one hole. Insert a garden hose. Connect the other end of the hose on the exhaust of your car. Turn your engine for about 15 minutes. The carbon monoxide that passes through the hose will poison the gophers.

Chemical Solutions 

Although chemical controls are not preferred, they can also be effective in controlling the population of gophers. Nonetheless, pesticides may contain toxic chemicals that can harm humans and the environment, which is why you need to observe extreme caution.

Among others, first generation anticoagulants are some of the best options when it comes to the chemical treatment for gophers. Such rodenticide will make the gopher die due to internal bleeding. With this, some of the most common active ingredients and their trade names include chlorophacinone (RoZol), bromethalin (Assault), and pindone (Pivalyn), among others.

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