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Gophers are small burrowing rodents known for their elaborate tunnel systems and destructive behavior in gardens and lawns. Understanding their activity patterns can help homeowners effectively manage and control gopher infestations. In this guide, we will explore the behavior and habits of gophers, their peak activity times, and methods for trapping and preventing gopher infestations.

Gopher Behavior and Habits

Gopher Identification and Description

Gophers are commonly known as pocket gophers due to their external cheek pouches, which they use to carry food and nesting materials. They have small eyes and ears, short legs with powerful claws for digging, and fur that varies in color depending on the species. Their bodies are robust and compact, enabling them to navigate through narrow tunnels.

There are various species of gophers, including the Botta’s pocket gopher, the Thomomys talpoides, and the Geomys bursarius. Each species may have different activity patterns and habitats.

Gopher Habitat and Behavior

Gophers primarily inhabit underground burrow systems that they construct, consisting of tunnels and chambers for nesting, storing food, and raising their young. These burrows can extend several feet below the surface and often have multiple entrances.

They prefer areas with loose, sandy soil, as it is easier for them to excavate tunnels. Gophers are commonly found in fields, pastures, meadows, and residential gardens. They feed on plant roots, tubers, bulbs, and other underground plant parts.

Gophers are solitary animals and are highly territorial. They mark their territory by leaving scent markings and mounds of soil at the entrances of their burrows.

Understanding Gopher Activity

When Do Pocket Gophers Come Out of Their Tunnels and Holes?

Pocket gophers spend the majority of their lives underground and rarely come out of their tunnels and holes. They are well-adapted to their subterranean lifestyle and have little need to venture aboveground.

When Are Gophers Most Likely to Come Out of Their Holes?

Gophers are most likely to come out of their holes during the early morning or late afternoon hours. These are the periods when their activity is at its peak, and they may venture aboveground to forage for food or engage in territorial behaviors.

Are Gophers Active at Night?

While gophers are primarily diurnal, meaning they are active during the day, they may occasionally exhibit some nocturnal activity. Factors such as food availability, weather conditions, and population density can influence their nighttime behavior.

What Do Gophers Do at Night?

If gophers are active at night, they likely engage in similar behaviors as they do during the day. This includes foraging for food, maintaining their burrows, and defending their territory. However, their nighttime activity may be less frequent compared to their daytime behavior.

Do Gophers Frequently Come Out of Their Holes?

Gophers do not frequently come out of their holes. As burrowing animals, they spend the majority of their time underground, carrying out their necessary activities within their extensive tunnel systems.

How Can I Know if a Gopher Hole is Currently Active?

Active gopher holes typically have fresh mounds of soil surrounding the entrances. These mounds are made as the gopher excavates the soil from their tunnels and pushes it to the surface. Additionally, fresh vegetation damage or wilting plants near the hole can indicate recent activity.

Methods for Trapping Gophers

Tips and Best Practices for Trapping Gophers

When trapping gophers, it is important to choose the right trap and placement. Live traps, snap traps, and box traps are commonly used. Placing the trap near an active gopher hole is crucial for success. It is advisable to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and be patient, as trapping can take time and persistence.

How to Trap Gophers When They Come Out of Their Holes

Trapping gophers when they come out of their holes requires careful observation and timing. To increase your chances of success, monitor the entrances of active burrows during the early morning or late afternoon hours when gophers are most likely to be aboveground. Place the trap strategically near the hole and ensure it is properly set.

Using Traps and Gopher Baits

In addition to traps, gopher baits can be used as an effective method to control gopher populations. Gopher Bait 50, for example, contains an active ingredient called diphacinone, which is a potent anticoagulant. Care should be taken when using baits to ensure they are applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions and kept out of the reach of children and pets.

Natural and Chemical Solutions

Gopher Repellents

Gopher repellents are products designed to deter gophers from invading specific areas. These repellents typically utilize natural ingredients such as castor oil, garlic, or predator urine to create an odor or taste barrier that gophers find unpleasant. It is important to follow the instructions provided with the repellent and reapply as needed.

Gopher Bait

Gopher bait, as mentioned earlier, can be an effective method for controlling gopher populations. Formulated with toxic substances, such as zinc phosphide, baits are attractive to gophers and can be used to reduce their numbers. It is crucial to handle and apply bait with caution to minimize the risk to non-target animals.

Biological Control

Biological control methods involve the use of natural predators, such as snakes or owls, to manage gopher populations. These predators feed on gophers and help to keep their numbers in check. Creating a welcoming habitat for these predators, such as providing nesting boxes, can encourage their presence in your garden or yard.

Preventing Gopher Infestations

Habitat Modification

Modifying the habitat can deter gophers from choosing your garden or yard as their home. Implementing techniques such as removing dense vegetation that provides cover, installing barriers below ground to prevent gopher tunneling, and maintaining a tidy garden can make your property less attractive to gophers.

Fencing Method

Installing a physical barrier, such as gopher-proof fencing, can prevent gophers from accessing your garden or other vulnerable areas. The fence should be buried several feet below ground to deter gophers from burrowing under it. Make sure the fencing material is durable and has small enough gaps to prevent gophers from squeezing through.

Expert Gopher Pest Control Services

Contact an Arizona Gopher Pest Control Company for the Best Solution

If your gopher infestation persists or you require immediate and professional assistance, it is recommended to contact a reputable pest control company specializing in gopher removal. These professionals have the knowledge, experience, and resources to effectively deal with gopher infestations and provide you with the best solution for your specific situation.

Professional Extermination Methods

Gopher pest control companies use various professional extermination methods to eliminate gophers from your property. This may include trapping, baiting, fumigation, or other targeted techniques tailored to the severity of the infestation. Professional services can offer long-term solutions and provide expert advice on preventing future gopher problems.

Dealing with Gophers Naturally

5 Natural Ways to Deal with Gophers

1. Planting gopher-repellent plants: Certain plants, such as castor beans, daffodils, and marigolds, are known to repel gophers due to their strong scent or toxic compounds.

2. Encouraging natural predators: Attracting natural predators of gophers, such as snakes, owls, or hawks, to your property can help keep gopher populations in check.

3. Installing vibrating stakes: Vibrating stakes emit vibrations that mimic the presence of larger animals, deterring gophers from settling in your garden or lawn.

4. Using homemade repellent sprays: Creating homemade sprays using ingredients like garlic, chili peppers, or soapy water can create an unpleasant environment for gophers.

5. Trapping and releasing: For those who prefer a more humane approach, live traps can be used to capture gophers and later release them in suitable natural habitats away from residential areas.


Gophers are active burrowing rodents known for their destructive behavior. Understanding their behavior and activity patterns is key to effectively managing and controlling gopher infestations. By implementing methods such as trapping, using gopher baits, modifying the habitat, or seeking professional pest control services, homeowners can successfully prevent and eliminate gopher problems. Additionally, natural methods can offer environmentally friendly alternatives for dealing with gophers. Remember, persistence and proper implementation are crucial to achieving long-term success in gopher control.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I identify a gopher in my garden?

A: Gophers can be identified by their external cheek pouches, short legs with powerful claws, and fur that varies in color. They create distinctive mounds of soil near the entrances of their burrows.

Q: What is the best time to trap gophers?

A: The early morning or late afternoon hours when gopher activity is highest are the best times to set traps near active gopher holes.

Q: Can gophers cause damage to underground utility lines?

A: Yes, gophers are capable of causing damage to underground utility lines, irrigation systems, and even tree roots as they dig their tunnels.

Q: Are gophers a threat to humans?

A: Gophers are generally not a direct threat to humans. However, their burrowing activity can damage landscapes and structures. Indirectly, they can also attract other pests or create tripping hazards with their tunnel systems.

Q: How long does it take to eliminate a gopher infestation?

A: The time it takes to eliminate a gopher infestation can vary depending on several factors, including the size of the infestation and the effectiveness of the chosen control methods. It may take several weeks or even months to completely eradicate a gopher population.

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