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About Gophers

Gophers are small burrowing rodents that can cause damage to yards and gardens. They are known for creating extensive tunnel systems underground, which can weaken the structural integrity of the ground and make it difficult for plants and trees to grow.

Gophers 101

Gophers belong to the group of mammals called pocket gophers. They are typically small in size, ranging from 5-14 inches in length. Gophers have stocky bodies, short tails, and powerful front legs that are adapted for digging. They have large, sharp teeth that they use to gnaw on roots and vegetation.

One of the most distinguishing features of gophers is their cheek pouches, which are used for storing food and carrying it back to their burrows. Gophers are also excellent diggers and can create complex burrow systems that consist of multiple tunnels and chambers.

What do gophers eat?

Gophers are herbivores and primarily feed on plant material. Their diet includes roots, bulbs, tubers, and the underground parts of plants. They can consume a significant amount of vegetation each day, which is why they can cause extensive damage to yards and gardens.

Understanding Gopher Control Methods

Methods Not Recommended

While there are several methods available for controlling gophers, there are some options that are not recommended due to their inefficiency or potential hazards:

  • Chemical solutions: The use of chemical repellents or disinfectants in gopher tunnels is not highly effective and may pose risks to other wildlife and the environment.
  • Flooding: Flooding gopher tunnels with water is not a reliable method as gophers can quickly find alternative routes or simply come back once the area is dry.

Using Natural Remedies

Natural remedies can be a safe and environmentally friendly way to deter gophers from your yard and garden:

  • Castor oil: Mixing castor oil with water and spraying it around gopher activity areas can help repel gophers as they dislike the smell of castor oil.
  • Sonic devices: Installing sonic devices that emit low-frequency vibrations can disrupt gopher tunneling and discourage them from staying in your yard.

Using Lethal Remedies

If natural remedies are not effective, or if the gopher problem is severe, you may consider using lethal control methods:

  • Gopher traps: Setting up gopher traps can be an effective way to catch and eradicate gophers from your yard. It is important to follow the instructions to ensure proper placement and humane trapping methods.
  • Poison baits: Poison baits can be used as a last resort, but caution should be exercised, as they can also pose risks to other animals and pets. It is important to follow the instructions carefully and place the baits in secure containers that only the gophers can access.

Preventing Gophers in Your Yard

Gopher-Proof Plants and Garden

Choosing gopher-resistant plant varieties can help minimize the risk of damage in your yard and garden. Some plant species have natural compounds that make them less appealing to gophers:

  • Gopher-resistant plant varieties: Consider planting plants like lavender, rosemary, and salvia, as gophers tend to avoid them.
  • Using gopher cages or baskets: If you have delicate plants that are particularly susceptible to gopher damage, placing them in gopher cages or baskets can provide protection.
  • Container gardening or raised beds: Creating raised beds or planting in containers can make it harder for gophers to access your plants and their roots.
  • Hardware cloth protection: Placing hardware cloth at the bottom of raised beds or planting holes can act as a barrier and prevent gophers from burrowing into the root zone.

Non-Toxic Gopher Repellents

There are various non-toxic repellents that can help deter gophers from your yard:

  • Natural repellent products: Commercially available repellents containing ingredients such as garlic, peppermint, or predator urine can be applied near gopher activity areas to discourage gophers from entering.
  • Gopher-repelling plants: Planting certain species like castor beans, daffodils, or marigolds can act as a natural deterrent, as gophers dislike their scent or taste.

Encouraging Natural Predators

Introducing natural predators can help keep the gopher population in check:

  • Introducing predatory animals: Encouraging natural predators like owls, hawks, or snakes to frequent your yard can be an effective way to control gopher populations.
  • Attracting beneficial wildlife: Creating a diverse and wildlife-friendly environment with bird feeders, birdbaths, and native plants can attract predators that will naturally prey on gophers.

Gopher Trapping

Gopher trapping can be a proactive approach to eliminate gophers from your yard:

  • Live traps: Using live traps allows for the capture and relocation of gophers to other suitable habitats.
  • How to set up and use gopher traps effectively: To trap gophers successfully, it is important to locate active tunnels, set traps properly, and regularly check and reset them as needed. Following the instructions provided with the traps will ensure efficient trapping.

Maintaining a Gopher-Free Yard

Consistent Maintenance

Regular maintenance is crucial for effectively preventing and managing gophers in your yard:

  • Regularly inspecting and repairing potential entry points: Regularly check your yard for signs of gopher activity, such as fresh mounds or chewed vegetation. Seal any holes or cracks in fences, walls, or other potential entry points.
  • Checking for signs of gopher activity: Keep an eye out for new mounds, tunnels, or chewed vegetation, as these can indicate gopher activity in your yard.

Decreasing the Food Supply

By reducing the availability of food, you can make your yard less attractive to gophers:

  • Removing vegetation and debris that attracts gophers: Clear away any fallen fruits, nuts, or other sources of food that may attract gophers to your yard.
  • Proper waste management: Dispose of yard waste, such as grass clippings and foliage, appropriately to eliminate potential food sources for gophers.


In conclusion, gophers can be a nuisance in your yard and garden, but there are several effective methods for preventing and controlling them. By choosing gopher-resistant plants, using natural repellents or deterrents, trapping gophers, and maintaining your yard properly, you can keep gophers away and protect your plants and landscaping.


Q: Are gophers harmful to humans?

A: Gophers do not pose a direct threat to humans. However, their burrowing activities can weaken soil structures, particularly in areas such as lawns or gardens, which can lead to safety hazards like sinkholes.

Q: Can gophers transmit diseases to humans?

A: Gophers are typically not known to transmit diseases to humans. However, they may carry ticks, fleas, or other parasites that can potentially spread diseases. It is important to take proper precautions when handling gophers or their burrows.

Q: How do I know if I have gophers in my yard?

A: Some common signs of gopher activity include fresh mounds of soil, chewed or damaged plants, tunnels visible near the surface, and gnaw marks on plant roots. If you notice these signs, it is likely that you have gophers in your yard.

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