"Au revoir, Gopher!": Tried and True Ways to Get Rid of Gophers.


It’s a pastoral and delightful day in the garden. Butterflies dance in light breezes fluttering past my face. A mocking bird alights upon the old cracked wooden fencepost above my head and does its best car alarm impersonation.

My senses are keen, honed like a panther that’s seen too many bobcat wars in its life. My mission, a simple one: hunt down, humiliate and sterilize all the invasive spotted spurge. I take in all of my surroundings. My very heartbeat is in rhythm with the light breezes and flora and fauna. Yet below me, terror awaits with sharp tooth and claw.

From the darkness, he mocks me. Beady useless and lifeless eyes seek out telling rays of sunlight. Monstrous talons caked in clay, blood and tears crumble away at secret passages. In silence he toils. My panther-like stillness and calm trance-like stealth afford me complete invisibility to his heightened senses of seismic activity. I move like Kevin Bacon in Tremors for fear the very stones may prate my whereabouts. Neither of us knows that the other lurks.

To my left I hear a faint rustling in the cluster of millet. Millet chest high and bursting with seed. My millet. My eyes zero in on the source of the sound, but nothing is there.

“Must be the wind,” I murmur to myself. I return to the hunt. Pulling at the roots alwa…

Again! The rustling.

This time my eyes know exactly where to go and do so instantaneously. There! At the base of the stalk, two leaves dancing to a different song than their neighbors. Yet no sign of anything.

I rise up slowly and quietly. Looking for the tell-tale three laser dots from the Predator to appear on my chest. “What gives?” Moments pass and just as I begin to once again question my sanity, the whole stalk wiggles and jerks. Just as suddenly, it begins to sink down into the earth in jagged fits like a long delicious noodle being slurped up by a hungry fat Italian child at the Spaghetti Factory. I move closer and watch this beautiful four foot tall crop disappear into the earth. Swallowed up by the detritus leaving a dimple and nothing more.

“He’s returned”, I said out loud to no one, “Get the axe!”.

-Excerpt from the nonexistent novel, My Fuzzy Vengeance: The true story of one mans battle for a green and lovely lawn by Sir Mug Squidwallow IIV (aka James Gielow).

Know Thine Enemy:

“I have to laugh, because I’ve outsmarted even myself. My enemy, my foe, is an animal. In order to conquer the animal, I have to learn to think like an animal. And, whenever possible, to look like one. I’ve gotta get inside this guy’s pelt and crawl around for a few days.”

-Carl Spackler

Is it a pocket gopher?

Thomomys species, or pocket gophers, are burrowing rodents sent from the Dark Lord of the Underworld. They are crafted from gypsy tears and lava and have been known to eat the souls of babies. They have external fur-lined  pouches (or pockets) they call cheeks designed to steal both your produce and your spirit. The gophers evil lips can close behind their ugly incisors to allow them to dig away without getting any dirt in their mouths. Clever buggers aren’t they? Their tiny lifeless eyes do little to seek out food. Their ears are just as useless, but somehow they are really into The Eagles. In order to maneuver in the dark tunnels, they use highly sensitive whiskers (another gift from the Dark Lord of the Underworld). But it’s their keen sense of smell that leads them into your veggie garden.

There are five species of pocket gopher in California alone, but chances are you’re dealing with Thomomys Bottae, or Botta’s pocket gopher. They’re about five to nine inches long with those nasty exposed incisors and large claws designed to dig and dig fast. They will almost always be underground in their burrows, but you may see one feeding right at the edge of an opening to the burrow. Sometimes you’ll see them scurrying about above ground as they seek out new territories. Such sightings are rare though.

Chances are, the way you’ll know that there’s a gopher present is by it’s tell-tale mounds. As gophers dig new and fancy rooms and tunnels in their burrows, they need to push the dirt out to the surface. The mounds are typically crescent- or horseshoe–shaped when looking from above and the plugs are off to one side.

Gopher Mound

Why thank you gopher! I love redoing flagstone! I didn't get you anything. Or did I...
Why thank you gopher! I love redoing flagstone! I didn’t get you anything. Or did I…

Note: If the mound is more circular with the plug in the center (kinda like a volcano) then you have mole trouble brother. That’s a different article, but I recommend getting an old priest and a young priest on standby.

What’s he building down there?

One gopher can create several mounds in a day. In areas that are not irrigated, they tend to do this only in the Spring and Fall when the ground is damp and the soil is looser. But in your lawn, garden or flower beds, the soil is always damp and loose so they will dig year round. If it’s winter time, they will even tunnel through the snow.

The evil lair of the pocket gopher can be anywhere from 200 to 2,000 square feet. That’s officially twice the size of my f*#king house! Another reason to destroy these vermin. Their feeding burrows are about 6-12 inches below the surface. The nest and food storage areas can go up to six feet below the surface. In between are the family room, spa/gym and entertainment rooms.

Gopher Burrow Birdseye

Gopher Mounds Birdseye

They never hibernate. Even if you don’t see active mounds, they’re down there all right. Plotting. They’re active at all hours of the day. At night, they tend to do sketches of you in awkward and uncouth situations to line the walls of their entertainment rooms.

Gopher Sketching

When to strike?

Here’s the good news: they typically live alone. So that’s only one gopher to kill. Unless of course if it’s breeding season. In the Spring, they will call over ladies of ill repute at late hours (using your minutes) to invite them over for some less than romantic hanky panky. They can produce up to three litters per year at five to six young per litter. That’s why you need to get them as soon as you see their mounds! Chances are they’re swanking up their bedrooms before inviting the ladies over for swinging parties. Parties that you’re not invited to! DO NOT HESITATE!

They will eat just about all your veggies, but also go after the roots of newly planted trees! You’ve already read my story above regarding the millet. The damage a gopher can do will always surprise you. Hell, if you had a juicy carrot in your pocket and were standing still long enough, he’d probably drag you down to his lair as well! Don’t even get me started on their excessive WiFi usage! They’re good at hacking passwords.

The Nitty Gritty:

Okay folks. We’re gonna tackle this from two different camps: humane ways to deal with gophers and “swimming with the fishes” ways. If you’ve arrived here with hate in your heart, a yard full of large dirt mounds and missing veggies, and demand revenge in a just and final manner, you may wish to scroll on down to Section 2: Death from Above! Most of these methods will require you to expose that plug in the mound and even dig down to the main tunnel in some cases. I’ll illustrate how to do that below. I’ve personally tried just about every method listed below. Some work with some success, some with little to none and one worked every time. You’ll see which is my favorite at the bottom, but I want you to have options for moral or entertainment reasons. Here goes.

Section 1: The Gentle Approach: for the peaceful gardener

You just got out of your yoga class, finished your granola wheat-grass acai smoothie and you’re not in a killing mood. I get it. We all have the right to live and thrive right? Fine! Have it your way and let the varmint soar. Yet still, your mellow has been harshed by the wake of destruction before you. You must passively and soothingly shoo away these unwelcome guests. But how?

Non-lethal Methods:

  • Cornmeal: Cornmeal when sprinkled liberally onto your lawn or garden and then soaked into the dirt with a hose will act as deterrent to gophers. They simply do not like the taste left in the soil as they dig their tunnels and will choose to move on elsewhere. There is also and added benefit of a mild lawn fertilizer from the cornmeal. This method, however, only will last for a month or two depending on how much rain you get. Based on this, it can be costly and time consuming but not a bad option due to the added benefits.

  • Seismic deterrents: Vibrating sticks can be purchased for your yard which create a mild thumping vibration that drive gophers far away from the source. It basically simulates a person or predator walking around on the surface and can be quite effective at keeping gophers at bay. They have stakes that you drive into the ground (not by hammering) that are either solar-powered, require batteries or you can get windmill-powered ones at your local Harbor Freight. Dying batteries or sunless/windless days or locations are the flaws in this system. That, and the fact that if you need large areas protected, the costs are huge!

  • Bio-barriers: Some plants are thought to deter gophers. Plants such as caper spurge, gopher purge, mole plant (Euphorbia lathyrus) and the castor-oil plant (Ricinus communis) have been promoted as gopher repellents, but there is no evidence of their effectiveness. In addition, these are not recommended as they are poisonous to both humans and pets. That, coupled with the number of plants you would have to place in order to effectively create a barrier, makes this method a bit impractical and greatly limits your landscaping design. It might not be a bad option if a portion of your lot borders an open field or park.

  • Live traps: The principles employed by live traps are almost as effective as the deadly spring traps (Spoiler alert: my preferred method) illustrated in Section 2 below. They take advantage of the gophers’ obsessive desire to plug up any holes in their massive burrows. The only caveat is that you have to put the gophers somewhere else once caught, and hopefully not where you’ll be pissing off the neighbors. So be careful when you’re relocating! Also, try not to handle the gopher at all if you can avoid it. Should you need to grab it, do so at the base of its neck like a mother cat carrying her young. Safe for you and painless to the gopher.


Section 2: Death from Above!: for the warrior gardener

My personal choice of methods—the permanent kind.

Warning: Graphic content!!

Captain Picard doesn’t mess around with space gophers; why would you mess around with Earth gophers?

Please don’t get me wrong, I love animals. I abhor cruelty to animals in all forms. Killing is not my forte. However, there are four animals on this green earth that I do not trust or abide: vampire bats, real vampires, zombies and gophers. Oh, and Hitler. Five. Five animals.

I don’t revel in taking their lives and I do so with solemn respect and reverence. I will, however, dispatch them all without hesitation. Let’s focus on gophers. For now (I’m looking at you zombies). This will be the one and only time on Mind Your Dirt that I will condone or teach death dealing as a solution for animal control. So get it while you can. Murderer.


Lethal Methods:

  • Garden Hose: Wow! What an excellent way to waste a bunch of precious water. The amount of water needed to fill an entire full-size burrow, provided it’s not seeping out elsewhere is too much to risk the low probability that you’ll actually drown the gopher. They even have chambers dug for drainage! And if you do end up scaring it to the surface, it’s time for hand to hand combat. Are you ready for that? In drought ridden California, this is simply not an option. Plus, death from drowning is awfully cruel. Even for gophers. You might also create sinkholes in your lawn and do more damage than the gopher. Skip this one if you can.
  • Gas Bombs: Gas bombs definitely have the coolness factor—they look like dynamite and move like the fog in a scary movie. The main ingredient is sulfur though, so you don’t want to breathe that in and you need to make sure you quickly seal the hole after you light the bomb and drop it in. Here’s the trouble with gas bombs, they move…very…slowly. Slower than the gopher can. They go out before the burrow is filled up and much of the gas seeps into the dirt itself especially in an irrigated, loose soil environment like your lawn. Another downside is that you won’t know it’s worked until you either see or don’t see a fresh mound the next day or so. I prefer confirmation of my kills thank you.

  • Car Exhaust: Actually, this method is more effective than the smoke bomb due to the sheer volume of toxic gases it produces. You’ll need some supplies to do the job, like metal flexible duct/hose to direct the fumes into the hole. Newer cars with higher emission standards will have to run longer, but 15 minutes should do the trick. Again, you run the risk of hand-to-hand combat should the gopher try escaping out the back door!
  • Explosives: Okay, I’m mostly joking about this method. But about 400 lbs. of C4 should do the trick! Actually, they do have a gas that you can pump into the burrow and then ignite, but I do not recommend trying this risky method. The danger level (coupled with the fact that it’s illegal in most states) makes this a pass.

  • Hire gopher snakes: Again, not very serious about this, but it would do the job. Two or three breeding pairs released into the garden should keep you gopher free forever. The main problem with this method is what will you introduce once the snakes take over? Mongoose? Then panthers to eat the mongoose. Dragons to eat the panthers. Next thing you know, your whole village is burnt to a crisp including the veggies. But no gophers!
  • Toxicants: Definitely not for the organic gardener! You’ll be introducing toxic chemicals into your yard that kids or dogs can be exposed to way too easily for me to responsibly recommend this method. Also, often the gopher will only eat enough to make himself sick and will avoid it from then on. There’s also the risk of creating a mutant radioactive gopher that will steal your wife, house and car after beating you within an inch of your life! Trust me (I miss you Susan, Trans Am and mansion in La Jolla. Sniff sniff).
  • Spring Traps: Ahh, the simple and cheap spring trap! Now we’ve arrived at the true hero of gopher control and my personal favorite. It’s also the most cost effective method, so double bonus. Go ahead and skip all the fancy traps or anything made of plastic and buy yourself a few Victor EZ set 0165 gopher traps. As it often is in life, the simple way is the best. These traps, when properly placed, work by taking advantage of the gophers main phobia: exposed burrows. To a gopher, an exposed burrow means that gopher snakes can sneak in for a nice feast. They are fastidious when it comes to sealing up any breaches to their lair. I’ve had some gophers get trapped 15 minutes after placing one of these. They are obsessed about their home being in order. Use this to their ultimate defeat and despair. Here’s a step-by-step on how to use these traps…

The Victor EZ set Trap: look no further!

Step 1: Locate the mound and open up the plug. You can do this with your hands as the soil is very loose and it’s easier to feel your way around than it is to use a tool. Don’t worry, he will be avoiding you like the predator that you are and will most likely be 100 feet away. Wear gloves if you feel safer, but you lose that tactile advantage. Once the plug is clear, many times you can look down the slanted tunnel and see the main tunnel below. Sometimes, this is not evident. If you can’t easily spot the main horizontal tunnel, see if you can find other mounds close by. Draw an imaginary line between those two mounds and chances are that the main tunnel is right there about 6—12 inches down.

Gopher Tunnel

Sometimes the slanted feeding tunnels go off the side of the main tunnel and you can get a bit lost. Don’t start digging willy nilly though or you risk being just as destructive as the gophers and someone will set traps to catch you! You can use a thin metal rod as a poker to determine if the tunnel is there by feeling for a sudden lack of resistance as you probe downward.

Gopher Mounds Detail

Step 2: Dig down to the main tunnel just wide enough to fit your hand and the trap. This is important because if you simply place the trap in the slanted feeding tunnel, the gopher may just seal it off the feeding tunnel from the main tunnel and not the surface, making your trap moot.  I’ve had a few occasions where I tried setting the trap in the slanted feeding tunnel only to have it magically buried in dirt within the next hour. I’ve also had a few times where it worked fine.

Before you dig, it’s a good idea to remove the turf/sod in a nice clean circle while trying your best to not damage the roots. Place the removed turf in the shade and keep it moist so you can replace your divots later! This will save you from having to re-seed the lawn. If there are multiple mounds, you can stuff the holes with the loose dirt and re-seed or re-sod depending on the extent of the damage. After the beast is subdued of course.

Step 3: Attach a string or thin wire (about two feet long) to the trap and tie the other end around a wood stake or a length of pipe or PVC. This is to retrieve your trap in case the gopher tries dragging it down the tunnel or buries it because he got the better of you (it happens). Simply push the stake into the ground a few inches as hammering will only drive the gopher farther away.

Follow the instructions to carefully set your trap. You don’t want that going off in your hands and risk further ridicule from the gopher below. He’ll tell his friends and they’ll all have a laugh at your expense! Hasn’t he taken enough already? Here’s nice video to show you how its done.

Carefully place one trap down the hole and then set it in the left side of the main tunnel with the flat metal trigger closest to you. Then do the same on the right side of the main tunnel. You see, you don’t know exactly where he is in the burrow and you need to cover both exits. You can either fill in the slanted feeding tunnel at the mound where the process began, or use a third trap there to increase your chances.

Gopher Traps

A gift for the gophers!
A gift for the gophers!

Step 4: Keep away from the area, about 20 feet or so. You, your kids, your dog, anything that will create vibrations that will drive him deep into his burrow. Sit back and wait for the sweet revenge! I’ve had it happen in as short as 15 minutes and as long as 24 hours. Usually it’ll happen sooner than later, but if it’s been more than a day then find another location because chances are the tunnel has been abandoned.  I like to use a bit of white 1/4″ string and lay the slack on the lawn, in a nice shape that I can easily see from a distance. Usually when the trap has gone off, the slack is taken up a bit and you’ll be able to spot it from afar, so as to not run the risk of scaring the gopher away before he’s caught.

Step 5: Dispose of the body. Be sure to use thick gloves to carefully free it from the spring trap. Who knows what diseases you might get if you poke yourself with the trap that was just in the gopher! You may get an uncontrollable urge to dig holes in the lawn and tear up your flower beds. That would be bad.

I prefer to bury the gopher right there on the spot in his main tunnel. While I have nothing to back this up, I believe that the smell deters other gophers from moving in anytime soon. I also like the idea of using the nutrients from his body to feed the area where he was actively destroying my greens. I would avoid doing this in the vegetable garden though. Kinda creepy to have him feeding your food! If it happens in the garden, you can just bury him elsewhere. Or maybe you’re into taxidermy? Turn him into a scare—gopher and display him at the four corners of your property as a warning to all those that follow! Your decision.

No matter which method you choose, once the gopher is gone the burrow will remain unused for a spell. But one day, maybe a year or two later, a young enterprising-upstart gopher will be wandering around in search of prime real estate. It will find this lovely abandoned burrow and move on in. Always keep a close eye out for those fresh mounds and act fast to avoid further damage!

I’d post more actual photos, but my yard has been gopher free for over a year now. They’ve all learned to fear and respect the mustachioed man beast. If you follow these simple steps then you too will be free of the gopher menace!

Now, this whole article is pretty in depth and will get you the results you need. It does, however, lack the street cred you can get by watching the movie Caddyshack in its entirety. It will teach you all you need to know about gopher hunting! I can only open the door; you must walk through it.

Go here to rent it immediately!

On a further note, I’d like to take this time to boast on how few Caddyshack clips I added to this post. I wanted to add so many, but my girlfriend talked me down. Something about litigation blah blah blah. I don’t know. Just return the favor by watching it right after reading this post.

What are your gopher war stories? Let me know what’s worked for you or what humiliations you’ve suffered at the hands of the beast. Mind Your Dirt wants to know your shame and your triumph. Having trouble catching the brute even after this article? Then just ask and I’ll help you out directly!

35 Replies to “"Au revoir, Gopher!": Tried and True Ways to Get Rid of Gophers.”

  1. Worth the wait! The laughs, the tears, the drawings, the solutions, the Caddyshack (promise to rewatch from my new point of view). Thank you!

    One other potential solution: mama cats in the predator niche.(recommended by locals). They have not eliminated, but have greatly reduced our gopher population. We see the cats stalk and put their ears to the ground, and the offerings are often brought to the porch for ritual display and consumption. Males hunt too. Despite our reservations about free breeding, population has remained stable over 18 months at 3 or 4 cats. Cats must have their own predators here, perhaps coyotes.

    1. Thanks Aggie! That’s so true, I’ve had some strays hunting on my front lawn when I first bought the house. That’s when the gophers reigned my lot. When I was young and foolish.

      After a few months of watching my grass get destroyed, I’d join them out there with a makeshift spear. Much to the amusement of my neighbors.


        1. Wow, that’s some serious carnage! What do you use on the gophers at your place? For me, that millet was the last draw. That’s when Carl Spackler took over and things got serious. “we can do that, we don’t even need a reason!”

          1. I thought your millet story was a tall tale, but Lou says that’s what they do. He used to watch them take whole tomato plants at his friend’s garden! After the onion theft, we got the cats, and we’ve only had a minimal, tolerable amount of theft since then. I’ll let you know how it goes this growing season.

          2. That was indeed a true story. I believe they take the whole plant to drag down into their food storage den. It’s safer to chop it up in the burrow. Sneaky bugger.

  2. I believe I am now the most gopher informed Australian on the planet. If gophers ever charter a boat towards Australia, seeking refugee status, I will be prepared. Brilliant illustration James – what a gift you have!

    1. Good on you! What similar pests to you have in Australia? I imagine something venomous and scary. The reticulated humpback triple fanged hedgehog? Vampire moles? Nocturnal flying cane toads?

      I’m glad that you have the leg up for the gopher attack which is certain to head your way. With the world getting smaller and our interconnectedness, the gophers are sure to read about Australia on Tumblr or Twitter and begin tunneling across the floor of the Pacific any day now! Sharpen your axes!

  3. Bucky and I were lolling over this: “Just as suddenly, it begins to sink down into the earth in jagged fits like a long delicious noodle being slurped up by a hungry fat Italian child at the Spaghetti Factory.” I’ve never actually seen a gopher in the wild, but when I worked at home depot I read the instructions on all of the many methods to kill gophers, moles, slugs, mice, rats, and spiders. One of my favorites was this sort of crystallized blood in a shaker. Apparently some of these criteria think their next and head the other way. Obviously this is war so I wanted to give you this advise from Robert McNamara from the film Fog of War:

    -Empathize with your enemy

    -Belief and seeing are often both wrong

    -Rationality will not save us

    -Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning

    -There’s something beyond one’s self

    -In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil

    -Maximize efficiency

    -Proportionality should be a guideline in war

    -Never say never

    -You can’t change human nature

    1. Some sage advice good sir! I’ve never taken the battle lightly and I always spend several hours preparing my self for the fight ahead. Know thine enemy is my motto. I have a gopher costume that I wear and I dance the dance of the subterranean under the blood moon. By the time I actually go after the great toothed beast, I have already become him. In a way, I defeat myself while dispatching the rodent. Except I somehow seem to go to work the next day and eat and have sex while he simply rots. Guess it’s more symbolic than literal.

      I’m glad you and your son were able to enjoy this mix of nonsense and practical advice! When dealing with vermin, it’s important to stay mentally divergent and grinning. It’s the only way to triumph.

  4. What fortuitous timing of this blog! Went out back and found 11 new holes. Your entertaining diagrams and instructions are helpful and will pass this on to friends so we can all enjoy a little “gopher gallows” satisfaction.

  5. Enjoyed your images, I’d like to help you with some of the information you provided. I’ve been trapping since 1966 and have never used anything but traps. Our family has been trapping for more than 100 years, using specific techniques that we have mastered, allowing us to guarantee our work. For 6 generations, we rely on traps. Back in the early 1900’s my grandfather was asked to prove whether or not baits and other toxins would work for the state. They did nothing for pocket gophers. To this day, I continue to advocate for the only green and environmentally safe, accurate and true method. I do this for the public safety and also to stop the public from being ripped off. I recently spoke with a foreman of a large farm I provided training at in California. They were spending $10,000 per month on useless baits. Those baits were never intended for pocket gophers but the industry labeled them as if they’re the same as any other rodent, which they are not. These unscrupulous tactics will keep the public desperate and coming back for more useless products, while the pocket gopher populations continues to grow. The term “control” means nothing when talking about pocket gophers, what many of those within the pest control industry are doing is literally causing more damage while guarantee their income.

    The public needs to know that pocket gophers are Herbivores and will never eat any baits you put in their tunnels. They push it above ground where children, pets, livestock, wildlife and especially birds ingest and are poisoned. I am constantly hearing from folks on using those other methods as well, especially water…all bad and will not work. Additionally, for those readers that are unaware of the gopher lifecycle, social and behavioral sciences and methodology; removing the mound simply means you have eliminated the obvious and the gopher remains unharassed to live out it’s life breeding, socializing and traveling from one neighborhood to another. While many think trapping is a daunting task and impossible to succeed, they’re wrong. I teach and within 5 days anyone can kill them like a pro.

    A few important things to mention; gopher carry a host of diseases, parasites and fleas which can spread diseases, some deadly ones like bubonic plague. Pocket gophers are born with tapeworm, so handling the dirt, walking through it or allowing pets to dig, chase and eat these rodentia is not advised. It’s very easy to transmit tapeworm into your home and to your family, especially small children who are on the floors.

    Additionally, pocket gophers are the most destructive rodentia on the planet. An adult can easily move 300 tons of soil to the surface per year. Imagine your home or swimming pool without that soil. Pocket gophers travel using PVC pipe, underground utilities, sidewalks, curbs, ditches and basically anything we put on top of their domain. I have seen millions in damages and all could have been avoided if the gophers had of been killed at the first sight. The lifecycle of the pocket gopher increases at an incredible rate, within weeks you will have multiple generations, all utilizing pipes, creating underground dens underneath bathtubs and pools. This is an important reason why toxic, flammable gas and explosives should never be used. Without x-ray vision, you will never know where these tunnels lead, without the experience we have. Children have been killed even by professionals using their deadly products too close to homes. By the time you’ve stepped onto your lawn, the pocket gophers already know you’re there, open their closed-air system, and they’ve already blocked the entire tunnel off. That run may be abandoned completely, or utilized months later, either way, the gophers will close off the line, move over a few inches and create a new tunnel and additional damages.

    Trapping is the only true method of gopher extermination, you must kill them, not relocate them. The risk of spreading diseases into a new region is a high risk and unless you hold a Federal Wildlife Specialist License, you are not allowed to hold or transfer these live rodents. You also risk your own health and safety.

    I would like to mention that there are so many “old wives tales” when it comes to pocket gophers, I stopped counting. Gum, water, gopher purge, noisemakers, you name it….useless. The only thing I know that a pocket gopher will not digest is Marigold flowers. A pregnant female will chew them off and use them for bedding but the sap is horrible tasting and incredibly bitter. Over the years, I have shared many Marigold seeds with my customers, as my folks grow them.

    One last thing, the drawings are fantastic however, the tunneling are not accurate. I would like to help your readers with that as well, which is why flooding never works. Yes, you may catch a senior or baby in the middle of a run but to wipe out the den, it will never-ever-ever happen and I can prove why.

    I did enjoy your article, happy I stumbled upon it.


    Sandy Seino, Owner/Founder, Master Pocket Gopher Expert, Licensed Trapper, Wildlife Specialist and Instructor
    The Gopher Getters

    P.S. I prefer the original Caddyshack, I am sure I have more copies than anyone, lol.

    1. Well Sandy, this is perhaps the most thought out comment I’ve ever received. Thank you so very much for sharing all of this with us all!!

      I did mention in the article that the simple and cheap trap is my one and only method I use to deal with pocket gophers. So it’s fantastic to get confirmation on that!

      As a practice, I wipe out the gopher the moment I see the signs. As a result, I’ve hardly had any real problems with damages. They get a day tops before Carl Spackler emerges! Thanks again!

  6. well, marigolds were considered a delicacy by our resident gophers…. not only did they suck them straight down the hatch but they would wander above ground just to get a good look at how big the buffet was!

    You do have to go at least 6 inches above ground level w/ any boards or wire as the gophers have no issues w/ walking around up top, nibbling and checking out new digs.

    1. I’m currently helping my neighbor handle her gopher problems. No boards or wire for me, just warm death. My lot has been relatively free of gophers for over a year now. No mercy!

  7. I`m trying to live trap pocket gophers for a research project. However, I have almost all my traps filled with soil. I tried to let the burrow open and closed. I tried peanut butter, carots and nothing (light only), but nothing. I usually a choose long galleries to set my traps, but nothing so far. Any hints?

    1. The fact that they are filling up with dirt is promising at least. It means they’re still active in the tunnel. Sometimes when my spring traps keep getting evaded, the gopher gives up and seals off the whole wing. Then you have to wait for fresh mounds in another location.

      Mechanical failure of the trap is sometimes the cause, no matter the trap. Admittedly, I’ve not tried the live capture trap. My heart is too cold it seems. But I can help with the critters habits as I am deep into its head at this point.

      Are your trap locations always in the same area or are you hitting other fresh mound locations too? Like fishing, sometimes you have to poke about.

      If it’s filling up with dirt, it’s happening quickly I’d imagine. Empty it and replace it twice daily and hope the trap will hit before they pile in the dirt. Test the mechanism itself too if you haven’t already.

      Try to map out as much of the burrow as possible too by using those cheap orange flag thingies with the metal wire post and a 1/4″ diameter metal rod so you can poke down and carefully feel for hollow earth. Dig down every now and again to be able to expose and double check your tracking skills. Place a trap while you’re there. Can you do a trap going back to back in both directions? Sometimes that helps when my spring traps keep getting buried.

      Every so often, a gopher just alludes my traps over and over. But by resetting and clearing the soil out twice a day, I win in the end.

      Happy hunting! And good luck Ana. You can send me photos of your setup or the burrow site if you like and I can see if anything jumps out at me as a cause.

    2. Oh, forgot to mention, I’m not convinced that you need any bait other than opening up their tunnel. They don’t arrive at your trap because it’s dinner time, they want to fix the roof! In my experience, it’s unnecessary to use food bait.

  8. Thanks for the humorous take. I have about 40 acres of land in southwestern Montana which at one time was planted with alfalfa and barley. I also have hundreds of gophers and, therefore, badgers as well digging enormous holes which makes it dicey to bring livestock onto the property. Why isn’t there a way to disrupt the reproductive cycle of these animals and, no, I am not suggesting tiny condoms! There’s millions of $$ to be made if someone in the scientific community would get busy on birth control for rodents. Just think of the applications for mice/rats in major cities! I have tried almost all of the methods suggested here and the one that works best is the old lead vaccine.

    1. Haha, lead vaccination would be troublesome here in the city. Or else I’d be right with you on that method.

      Having way less land to protect makes it much easier to control gophers. My entire perimeter is surrounded with the buried corpses of the fallen. I’ve managed to stuff the deceased gophers in every existing tunnel that surrounds my lot. This has had the effect of almost completely stopping any new residents. About every other year I’ll get one foolish fool that makes a tiny mound. They are dispatched within 24 hours and often within the first hour of my traps being set. I show no mercy.

      40 acres is a whole other story. I’m assuming that only a portion of that is farmable or grazeable though right? If so, you could create similar perimeters of death that would help a lot. Just focus on the areas you want to keep clear. I know it’ll take time and you’ll have to literally map out all the main burrows so you know who’s where. Away from breeding season, they tend to be solitary so one kill would clear a large area. Just be sure to bury the corpse back into the main tunnels and that will keep them away for a while. Again, 40 acres is impossible to completely clear, but you can at least limit their range and numbers.

      As for the badgers!? Good luck! Tough little bastards. I love Montana by the way. Haven’t been there in years. I’m heading to Wyoming next week for the eclipse though. Can’t wait! I need some big sky country.

  9. You are all so cruel. Gophers are innocent animals just trying to live their lives. There is no justification for hating or killing them. Imagine if someone filled your world with poisons or booby traps because they didn’t like the mess that you leave in your wake (which we all do plenty, I assure you). Have some compassion and decency. Focus on deterrents and physical barriers, and let these poor animals live.

    1. Any other creature and I’d be right there with you. But there is plenty of justification in regards to gopher. They are extremely destructive to a home owner or property owner. And left unchecked, very expensive.

      Here’s something you may like though. Using my methods (of burying the body back in the den) I haven’t had to kill a gopher in over a year. They avoid my property now and I simply don’t have any problems anymore. So, that’s great for all three of us.

      Focusing on deterrents or barriers is a fool’s errand I’m afraid. They simply don’t work. Oh, also, I never put poison in my soil anywhere for any reason.

      If you have an actual better method, I’m all ears. Apart from that, I’ll continue enjoying my gopher free garden thanks.

  10. Sorry, cruel is watching landscaping you have paid good money for, or a vegetable garden you have slaved over, be destroyed. Give me a break. There are no proven deterrents/physical barriers. Educate yourself.

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