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Gophers can be a nuisance when they invade your yard and wreak havoc on your lawn and garden. Understanding what attracts gophers and how to prevent them from invading your yard is essential to maintaining a beautiful and pest-free property. In this article, we will explore the different types of gophers, signs of infestation, their behavior, and effective prevention and removal methods.

1. Understanding Gophers

1.1 What are Gophers?

Gophers are small rodents that belong to the family Geomyidae. They are burrowing animals known for their extensive tunnel systems. These creatures have stout bodies, small ears, and large front teeth that they use to burrow through the soil.

1.2 Types of Gophers

There are several types of gophers commonly found in North America:

1.2.1 Pocket Gopher

The pocket gopher, also known as the true gopher, is the most common type of gopher. They have external fur-lined cheek pouches, which they use to carry food and nesting materials.

1.2.2 Botta’s Pocket Gopher

Botta’s pocket gopher is a species of gopher native to California. They are known for their short tails and large front teeth.

1.2.3 Plains Pocket Gopher

The plains pocket gopher is primarily found in the Great Plains region of North America. They have silky fur, short tails, and strong claws.

1.2.4 Mazama Pocket Gopher

Mazama pocket gophers are native to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. They have long, soft fur and short tails.

2. Identifying Gopher Infestation

2.1 Signs of Gopher Infestation

It is important to be able to identify the signs of gopher infestation in your yard. Look out for the following signs:

  • Mounds of fresh soil on your lawn or garden
  • Visible gopher burrows and tunnels
  • Damaged plants and vegetation
  • Wilting or dying plants

2.2 Gopher Droppings

Gopher droppings are another indication of their presence. These droppings are small, cylindrical, and usually brown or black in color.

2.3 California Gopher Infestation

In California, gopher infestations are especially common. Apart from the signs mentioned earlier, California gophers are known to cause damage to irrigation systems and utility cables, leading to costly repairs.

3. Understanding Gopher Behavior

3.1 What Attracts Gophers to Your Yard?

Gophers are attracted to yards and gardens that provide the ideal food and habitat conditions. Their primary attractions include:

  • Abundance of plants and vegetation
  • Moist, well-watered soil
  • Presence of tasty roots, bulbs, and tubers

3.2 Gopher Habitat

Gophers prefer open areas like lawns, gardens, and meadows with rich soil. They thrive in regions with sandy or loamy soil types.

3.3 Gopher Diet

Gophers are herbivores and primarily feed on plant material. They consume a wide range of vegetation, including roots, bulbs, tubers, and grasses.

3.4 Gopher Tunneling

Gophers are known for their impressive tunneling skills. They create intricate systems of tunnels underground, complete with nesting chambers and food storage areas. Their tunneling activities can damage the root systems of plants, resulting in plant death.

4. Preventing Gophers from Invading Your Yard

4.1 Removing Attractants

To prevent gophers from invading your yard, it is essential to remove their attractants:

  • Remove excess vegetation and debris from your yard
  • Regularly mow the lawn and trim vegetation near the ground
  • Keep the yard well-drained and avoid overwatering

4.2 Installing Barriers

Installing barriers can be an effective way to keep gophers out of your yard:

  • Use wire mesh or hardware cloth to line planting beds and vegetable gardens
  • Bury the mesh at least 2 feet deep to prevent gophers from burrowing underneath

4.3 Encouraging Natural Predators

Attracting natural predators can help control gopher populations:

  • Install bird feeders to attract birds of prey, such as hawks and owls, which feed on gophers
  • Encourage the presence of domestic pets, like outdoor cats, that can hunt gophers

4.4 Using Ultrasonic Repellents

Ultrasonic repellents emit high-frequency sounds that are unpleasant to gophers and can deter them from your yard. Place these devices strategically to cover the affected areas.

5. Getting Rid of Gophers

5.1 Live Trapping

Live trapping can be an effective and humane method to remove gophers from your yard. Follow these steps:

  1. Identify active gopher tunnels
  2. Set up live traps targeted at these tunnels
  3. Check traps regularly and release captured gophers far away from your property

5.2 Raised Garden Beds

Raised garden beds can deter gophers from reaching your plants. Follow these steps to set up raised garden beds:

  1. Construct raised garden beds using materials like wood or blocks
  2. Line the bottom of the raised beds with wire mesh or hardware cloth
  3. Fill the beds with clean, gopher-free soil

5.3 Garden Fencing

Installing garden fencing can prevent gophers from accessing your plants. Here’s how:

  1. Dig a trench around your garden
  2. Bury wire mesh or hardware cloth at least 2 feet deep into the trench
  3. Secure the fencing above ground to prevent gophers from climbing over

5.4 Strong Smells as Repellents

Gophers dislike certain strong smells, and you can use these as natural repellents:

  • Plant gopher-repellent plants, such as castor beans, around the perimeter of your yard
  • Place strong-smelling items like garlic cloves or predator urine-soaked cotton balls near gopher activity areas

5.5 Ultrasonic Pest Noises

Ultrasonic pest noise devices emit high-frequency sounds that are irritating to gophers and can help repel them. Place these devices in areas where gopher activity is concentrated.

5.6 Seeking Professional Gopher Control

If your gopher problem persists despite your best efforts, it may be necessary to seek professional gopher control services. Pest control experts have the knowledge and tools to effectively remove gophers from your yard.

6. Maintaining a Gopher-Free Yard

6.1 Filling Gopher Holes

Fill gopher holes to prevent further infestation:

  • Use soil or a mixture of soil and sand to fill the gopher holes
  • Tamp the soil down to prevent collapsing

6.2 Regular Yard Maintenance

Maintaining a well-groomed yard can discourage gophers from taking up residence:

  • Remove fallen leaves and debris regularly
  • Mow the lawn consistently and keep grass trimmed

6.3 Professional Gopher Prevention Services

Consider hiring professional gopher prevention services to ensure long-term control and prevention. These experts can provide ongoing monitoring and treatments to keep gophers away from your yard.

7. Conclusion

Gophers are persistent pests that can wreak havoc on your yard and garden. By understanding their behavior and implementing effective prevention and removal methods, you can keep your property free from gopher infestations. Remember to remove attractants, install barriers, encourage natural predators, and utilize repellents to create a gopher-free environment. In case of severe infestations, seek professional assistance to tackle the problem effectively. By taking proactive measures, you can maintain a beautiful yard and protect your plants from these pesky rodents.


Q: Can gophers cause damage to underground pipes and cables?

A: Yes, gophers are known to chew through underground utility cables and irrigation pipes. Their burrowing activities can result in costly repairs.

Q: What should I do if I spot a gopher mound in my yard?

A: If you spot a gopher mound in your yard, it is important to take action promptly. Follow the prevention and removal methods outlined in this article to prevent further damage.

Q: Are gophers harmful to humans?

A: Gophers are not typically harmful to humans. However, their burrowing activities can undermine structures and damage plant roots, which can be a nuisance for homeowners.

Q: How deep can gophers burrow?

A: Gophers are capable of digging burrows that can reach depths of up to 3-4 feet below the surface.

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