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Comprehensive Guide to Controlling Garden Gophers

Our pride in gardens, yards, and homesteads stems from the hard work invested in building and maintaining them. However, when unwanted creatures take residence and undo all our efforts, it can be disheartening. One often thinks of gophers when considering unwelcome small animals.

Gophers can be incredibly destructive, and once established, they are challenging to get rid of. Whether you opt for eradication, prevention, or something in between, we've got you covered in addressing gopher issues.

Understanding Gophers

To effectively control gophers, it's essential to know exactly what they are and how they behave. In short, gophers are rodents that dig extensive tunnels underground using sharp claws and long teeth.

Signs of Gophers on Your Property



Gopher Mounds: The most common sign is mounds of soil on lawns or gardens, shaped like crescent moons and leading to tunnels. The soil in the mounds will be fine and loosely packed.

Damaged Plants: Plants, trees, and shrubs may show signs of damage. Gophers often eat underground roots, causing sudden plant death or even complete disappearance.

Favorite Targets: Gophers particularly favor tomatoes and roses, though they target many other plants.

Gopher Lifecycle

Understanding the gopher lifecycle is crucial for planning your response and explaining why certain control techniques might not work.

Gophers are active throughout the day, sleeping at night, without hibernation.

Activity slows in winter, with rare visits to the surface.

Breeding occurs in spring, with up to three litters per year, depending on the region.

Gophers are solitary creatures but may be seen with their mothers until around one year old, after which they reach maturity and establish their territories.

In optimal conditions, there can be up to one gopher per acre, or up to 60 gophers per acre in specific areas.

Non-Lethal Gopher Control

There are humane methods to control gophers that allow them to remain a vital part of the ecosystem:

1. Live Trapping:
Use traps designed for medium-sized animals.
Bait with gopher favorites like lettuce, carrots, or peanut butter.
Check traps daily and release captured gophers at least five miles away in approved areas.
Note: This method may lead to territorial disputes if gophers are relocated near others.


2. Repellents with Aromatic Scents:
Options like castor oil-based repellents are available.
Spray around tunnel entrances and mounds, ensuring penetration into the ground.
Repeat applications may be necessary.

3. Plant-Based Gopher Deterrents:
Certain plants are believed to repel gophers.
Plant these around the area you want to protect.
Examples include spurge, mint, rosemary, lavender, sage, marigolds, and oleander.


4. Exclusion Fencing or Gopher Baskets:
Install barriers made of fine mesh buried about three feet deep.
Gopher baskets made of materials like galvanized steel protect individual plants.

5. Natural Predators:
Barn owls are known to prey on gophers.
Encourage owl populations with nesting boxes.

Lethal Gopher Control
If non-lethal methods prove ineffective or too time-consuming, consider these methods:

1.Traps:
Various traps are designed to kill gophers quickly.
Choose traps suitable for your region and ensure you are comfortable with their operation.


2.Poison Baits:
Caution is crucial when using baits.
Always use bait stations to prevent unintended access by other animals or children.


3. What Not to Do:
Avoid dangerous methods like fumigation with chemicals or engine exhaust.
Noise makers or vibrations are ineffective and a waste of resources.
Remember, it's essential to try non-lethal methods first and allow them sufficient time to work. Lethal methods should be a last resort or an emergency solution.

Gopher control requires patience and persistence. Choose the method that suits your values and local regulations, and don't give up. Your efforts will pay off in a gopher-free, thriving landscape.

Olle Gopher Netting