Gopher Control

Gophers, also known as pocket gophers use, their cheeks to remove dirt from their runs as they search for food. Pocket gophers live in a burrow system. The burrows are about 2–1/2 to 3–1/2 inches in diameter and feeding burrows usually are 4 to 8 inches below ground. Gophers seal the openings to the burrow system with earthen plugs, this stops any unwanted visitors. Short, sloping lateral tunnels connect the main burrow system to the surface and come up at about a 45° angle; pushing all the dirt to one side making a crescent shape around the opening.

Pocket gophers are herbivorous and feed on a wide variety of vegetation but generally prefer herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees. Gophers use their sense of smell to locate food. Most commonly they feed on roots and fleshy portions of plants they encounter while digging. However, they sometimes feed aboveground, venturing only a body length or so from their tunnel opening. Burrow openings used in this manner are called feed holes. You can identify them by the absence of a dirt mound and by a circular band of clipped vegetation around the hole. Gophers also will pull entire plants into their tunnel from below.

Gophers usually live alone within their burrow system, except when females are caring for their young or during breeding season. Gopher densities can be as high as 60 or more per acre in irrigated alfalfa fields or in vineyards. Gophers reach sexual maturity about 1 year of age and can live up to 3 years. In non-irrigated areas, breeding usually occurs in late winter and early spring, resulting in 1 litter per year; in irrigated sites, gophers can produce up to 3 litters per year. Litters usually average 5 to 6 young.

Gophers don’t hibernate and are active year-round, although you might not see any fresh mounding. They also can be active at all hours of the day or night.

Damage: Pocket gophers often invade yards and gardens, feeding on many garden crops, ornamental plants, vines, shrubs, and trees. A single gopher moving down a garden row can inflict considerable damage in a very short time. Gophers also gnaw and damage plastic water lines and lawn sprinkler systems. Their tunnels can divert and carry off irrigation water, which leads to soil erosion.

Mounds on lawns interfere with mowing equipment and ruin the aesthetics of well-kept turf grass. They will also eat the bark off large shrubs trees. With no contiguous bark between the trunk and the roots the plant will die. Mounds of fresh soil are the best sign of a gopher’s presence. Gophers form mounds as they dig tunnels and push the loose dirt to the surface.

Treatment: We start by identifying which critter it is by the mounds of soil and the size of the burrow. –a gopher or a mole. For a gopher we set traps in the runs that are staked down. These traps are monitored every seven-ten business days, but also respond to service calls if new activity is noticed.

For gophers we may also use a gopher probe to deliver bait into the gopher run(s) approximately 8 -12 inches from mound of soil. The bait is delivered below ground and out of reach of any domestic animals. The bait smells like anise or black licorice and is made from the husk of the fruit of the Strychnos nux vomica plant canola oil and milo seed. It will kill the gopher in 2 – 3 hours after eating bait.

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