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How to Get Rid of Gophers

How to Get Rid of Gophers
Bahadir Yeniceri / Getty Images

If you have a gopher wreaking havoc in your garden, don’t fret. We’re providing a step-by-step guide on how to get rid of gophers in your yard or home.

What do gophers look like?

Gophers are larger in size than mice, and usually smaller than rats, averaging five to 14 inches in length. They are dark brown or black with white fur on both their tail and paws. Their front paws have large claws and they have four large incisors at the front of their mouth.

Because gophers are very timid and rarely come into contact with humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recognize gophers as carriers of diseases such as rabies. A more common danger is their potential to transmit fleas and ticks to outdoor pets.

How do you get gophers?

Gophers are found in North and Central America, usually in areas with sturdy soil that’s rich in moisture and clay. Much of the United States is hospitable to gophers, however, the western two-thirds of the country, as well as states in the Southeast (such as Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) prove to be popular habitats.

Gophers feed on plants, fruits, and vegetables, and are attracted to yards featuring lots of plant life, particularly alfalfa, carrots, dandelions, grasses, potatoes, radishes, tree bark, and tulips.

How to check for gophers

To check for gophers, look for any displaced earth or fan-shaped mounds measuring 12” to 18” wide and 4” to 6” high. These mounds will have a hole off to one side. Additionally, check your crops and plants for damage too. Gophers eat the plant roots from underground but they can also pull above-ground plants down into their tunnels.

Finally, check for problems with your utilities as gophers can chew through underground cables, sprinkler systems, and plastic water lines in search of water. A gopher’s teeth are constantly growing, so chewing on things like cables helps to maintain their incisors.

How to get rid of gophers, step by step

If you’re wondering how to get rid of gophers, you’re in luck. We’ve outlined three of the most effective and humane methods below:

1. Use an electronic repellent system

Ultrasonic pulses that emit from these systems can repel all kinds of animals in your yard, including gophers, though the research on effectiveness is inconclusive. They cost between $14 and $80 and can be found at most hardware stores and online. Many can cover areas up to 7,500 sq. ft. They claim to work by emitting a highly irritating sound below the ground to drive out the gophers. Most of these systems come in the form of spikes, which are inserted into the ground. Once the gopher has left your property, you can leave the spikes in your yard to prevent new gophers from taking up residence.

2. Use liquid or granular repellents

When used with the electronic system, liquid and granular repellents can further help to drive gophers out of your yard. These products usually contain castor oil (which rodents can’t stand), as well as predator urine or other chemicals from which they’ll want to flee. You can sprinkle or spray the repellent directly into the gopher holes and onto your plants. You’ll want to use products that are non-toxic and safe for both children and pets.

3. Use a live trap to catch and release

The first two steps are sometimes effective, but if you still find yourself with a gopher problem after a few weeks, you may have to use live trapping to catch and then release the gopher far away from your property. Unlike inhumane traps that close shut on the animal, live trapping uses a large cage to safely house the gopher until you relocate them. You can find live traps in hardware stores or online, ranging from $20 to $60 on average.

Products you can use to fix a gopher infestation

  • Victor gopher sonic spike: Sonic pulses are emitted every 30 seconds which claim to irritate and drive gophers away, covering an area of up to 7,500 sq. ft.
  • Chase Mole & Gopher Repellent: With a hose-end liquid sprayer, you can cover your yard in liquid repellent to get rid of gophers humanely and prevent others from taking up residence.
  • Nature’s Defense animal repellent granules: These 100% organic, natural, and non-toxic repellent granules have an herbal scent which gophers (and 19 other types of pests and animals) can’t stand.
  • AB Traps live humane trap: Once the gopher is caught, the locking mechanism ensures it can’t escape. The reusable cage keeps the gopher safe until it can be released in a different location.
  • Castor oil: Gophers are strongly deterred by the taste and smell of castor oil, but it won’t harm them when sprinkled around their burrows or on your vegetation.

When to call a professional to get rid of gophers

Still wondering how to get rid of gophers? If you’ve tried every method to no avail, it may be time to call in a professional wildlife removal service. While it may seem more costly than do-it-yourself measures, professionals can save you time, energy, and added stress. Gophers can cause extensive damage to your crops, plants, underground cables, and more, which might result in thousands of dollars of damage over time. A professional will assess your situation before deciding which measures need to be taken.

How to keep gophers out of your yard

Now that you know how to get rid of gophers, you’ll also want to take preventative measures to keep gophers away for good. Make your property less habitable by making your plants and vegetables harder to access. Place a protective barrier of wire or mesh around them and pick up any fruits or vegetables as soon as they fall to the ground. Reduce vegetation by trimming back bushes and try to pack down your soil as much as possible to make it harder for gophers to dig through.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get gophers in a yard?

Your yard will appeal to gophers if it has plenty of vegetation (especially fruits and vegetables like carrots, potatoes, radishes, and alfalfa) or soil that’s rich in moisture and clay. Gophers are especially prevalent in the western and southeastern areas of the United States.

Are gophers dangerous? 

Gophers are not known to be dangerous animals to humans. They are very timid and rarely come above ground. If you see a gopher, don’t touch or feed it, as they could bite if provoked.

What is the difference between moles and gophers? 

Both gophers and moles can cause damaging holes in your yard, but they’re different animals that require different treatments. Gophers are medium-sized, at around 12 inches in length, and have four large incisor teeth that are always exposed. Moles are smaller, measuring 6 to 8 inches long with pointed snouts, minuscule eyes, and paddle-like forefeet.

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