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Gophers are small burrowing rodents that can cause damage to lawns and gardens. Understanding their behavior and habitat is essential in dealing with them effectively. This article will provide insights into when gophers come out of hiding and offer strategies on how to handle infestations.

Understanding Gophers: Behavior and Habitat

Gophers’ Appearance and Behavior

Gophers are typically small mammals with stout bodies, short legs, and strong claws for digging. They have fur ranging from brown to gray, which helps them blend into their surroundings. Gophers are solitary animals and rarely seen above ground.

Gophers’ Habitat and Diet

Gophers prefer habitats with loose, sandy soil that is easier to burrow through. They create intricate tunnel systems that include nesting chambers, food storage areas, and escape routes. Gophers primarily feed on plant roots, particularly those of grasses and other vegetation found in lawns and gardens.

Identifying Gopher Infestation

Signs of Gopher Activity in Your Yard

Recognizing the signs of gopher activity is crucial in identifying an infestation. Some common indicators include mounds of freshly excavated soil, crescent-shaped openings in the ground, and damaged plants with severed roots. Additionally, gophers may leave behind feces near their burrow entrances.

Distinguishing Gopher Holes from Other Burrowing Pests

It is important to differentiate gopher holes from holes created by other burrowing pests like moles or groundhogs. Gopher holes are typically crescent-shaped with a raised mound of soil surrounding the entrance. The openings are normally plugged, which distinguishes them from the open burrows of other pests.

When and How Do Gophers Come Out of Their Holes?

Gopher Activity Levels during the Day

Gophers are primarily active during daylight hours, especially in the early morning and late afternoon. However, they tend to stay underground and only come out of their burrows for short periods of time to gather food or move between tunnels. Because of their elusive nature, gopher sightings during the day are rare.

Gopher Activity Levels at Night

Gophers are most active during the night, particularly in areas with less human activity. They venture out of their burrows to forage for food and explore their surroundings under the cover of darkness. This is when they are more likely to be seen, although it still requires patience and careful observation.

Factors Influencing Gopher Emergence

Several factors can influence when gophers come out of their holes. These include weather conditions, soil moisture levels, and availability of food. Gophers are more likely to emerge during periods of mild weather and when the soil is neither too wet nor too dry. Additionally, their activity may increase during periods of peak plant growth when food sources are abundant.

Tactics for Luring Gophers Out of Their Holes

Effective Methods for Detecting Active Gopher Holes

Locating active gopher holes is essential in implementing control measures. One effective method is to lightly pack down the openings in gopher mounds and check for fresh disturbance the following day. Another technique is using small markers, such as flags or sticks, to identify potential gopher activity if the soil has been disturbed.

Attracting Gophers with Bait and Repellents

Using bait and repellents can be effective in luring gophers out of their holes. Gopher-specific baits, such as pellets or grains, can be placed near the burrow entrances. These baits are often treated with toxicants that target gophers specifically. Repellents, on the other hand, emit odors that deter gophers from entering certain areas of your yard.

Using Flooding or Fumigation to Drive Gophers Out

In extreme cases, flooding or fumigation can be employed to force gophers out of their burrows. Flooding involves introducing water into the tunnel system, which can cause gophers to evacuate to higher ground. Fumigation involves releasing toxic gases into the tunnels, which can be effective in eliminating gopher populations.

Trapping and Removing Gophers

Step-by-Step Guide for Setting Gopher Traps

Trapping is a humane and effective method for removing gophers from your property. Follow these steps to set up gopher traps:

  1. Locate an active gopher tunnel by identifying fresh mounds.
  2. Dig a hole next to the tunnel and place the trap inside.
  3. Ensure the trap is set properly, following manufacturer instructions.
  4. Cover the hole with a piece of plastic or plywood to block out light.
  5. Check the traps regularly and remove any trapped gophers.

Disposing of Trapped Gophers Responsibly

When disposing of trapped gophers, it is important to do so responsibly. Consider the following options:

  • Bury the gophers deep underground.
  • Double bag the gophers in plastic and dispose of them in the trash.
  • Contact local authorities for more information on proper disposal methods.

Preventative Measures to Keep Gophers Away

Companion Planting to Deter Gophers

Companion planting involves strategically selecting plants that gophers dislike and will avoid. Some examples of gopher-deterring plants include marigolds, garlic, and castor beans. By incorporating these plants into your garden, you can help deter gophers from taking up residence.

Tips for Maintaining a Gopher-Resistant Yard

Here are some tips to keep your yard gopher-resistant:

  • Regularly monitor your yard for signs of gopher activity.
  • Remove attractants like excess vegetation and food sources.
  • Maintain a well-maintained lawn with healthy, deep-rooted grass.
  • Install wire mesh or barriers around vulnerable areas.
  • Consider using gopher-resistant plants in your landscaping.

Myths and Facts about Gophers

Debunking Common Misconceptions about Gophers

There are several myths surrounding gophers that need to be debunked:

  • Gophers are not blind; they have acute vision.
  • Gophers do not eat tree roots; they primarily feed on grasses and plants.
  • Gophers do not hibernate; they remain active year-round.

Interesting Reasons Why Gophers Avoid Coming Above Ground

There are several interesting reasons why gophers avoid coming above ground:

  • Above-ground exposure puts them at greater risk of predation.
  • They are well-adapted to survive underground with access to food and shelter.
  • Their burrowing behavior provides protection from harsh weather conditions.


Q: Are gophers dangerous to humans?

A: Gophers are not typically dangerous to humans. However, their burrowing activities can cause damage to landscaping and underground utilities.

Q: Can gophers be relocated?

A: Relocating gophers is not recommended as it is often ineffective and may lead to the spread of gophers to new areas.

Q: Are gopher tunnels a threat to structures?

A: Gopher tunnels can compromise the stability of structures if they undermine foundations or cause sinkholes. It is important to address gopher infestations promptly to prevent structural damage.

Q: Can gophers be controlled without the use of traps or toxicants?

A: While trapping and toxicants are commonly used methods, there are alternative approaches that include natural predators like owls or encouraging the presence of snakes in your yard.


Gophers are elusive creatures that spend the majority of their lives underground. Understanding their behavior, when they come out of hiding, and how to deal with them can be instrumental in effectively managing gopher infestations. By implementing appropriate control measures and preventative strategies, you can protect your lawn and garden from the damage caused by these burrowing rodents.

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