desert_cat_ca(z8CA)November 24, 2013

I found a gopher hole next to my potato plant..How do you get rid of those nasty critters..

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Traps and/or poison. The trick is to get it when it's fresh and to cover up the hole so no sunlight gets through. Otherwise, they'll try to keep the light out by pushing dirt back onto your traps/poison. A dinner plate, brick, or piece of flagstone works wonders at preventing dirt from filling tunnels when you shovel dirt back onto the hole.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 7:27PM
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jeanwedding(6 ky)

"Farm Journal" magazine contributors said something about using a propane gas torch but not lighting the torch. I am trying to find the article.
another contributor use exhaust gases off his lawnmower on page 10 of the volume 37, number4,2013 issue.. says his web site is
another guy invented a machine to pump sand into varmits holes and filling up....
Just chiming in

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 8:26PM
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If you are like me and don't like poison, your best bet is to use a trap similar to the Macabee trap.

Do not delay. The gopher will not go away on its own. Even if you see no further signs of activity, that doesn't mean the gopher is gone. Dig out the hole you found until you find where it is horizontal (more or less). Set a trap in the hole (The traps only work from one angle of approach, so if you don't know which way the gopher is coming, you need to set two traps, facing out from each other). Use some kind of stake to make sure the gopher cannot drag the trap farther into the tunnel system. I use landscape staples.

Make sure your dog doesn't dig up the trap. Put rocks or something over the area.

Do not use any bait.

Check the trap in 24 hours, and again 24 hours after that. If you don't see anything at that point, give up on that particular location. Gophers are not social. If you do catch one you are done with that particular tunnel. Fill in the hole but remain vigilant. There may be other gophers in the general area.

Every day, scout for holes and mounds all around your vegetable garden. Some holes can be very hard to spot, but the holes without mounds are the ones the gopher uses for feeding, and are a better prospect for setting traps. Holes with mounds around them (you can't see the hole, just the mound) are just clear out holes for dirt. Often, the traps don't work well in these kind of holes, because the trap is activated by the dirt, and the gopher escapes unscathed. What I mean is, the gopher tends to be pushing a bunch of dirt in front of him (or her) when he (or she) travels through the tunnel leading to a clear out hole.

But if you can't find a feeding hole, you can set a trap in a clear out hole.

Flatten old mounds and fill in old holes so you don't get confused. You will probably have to do this forever now. Gophers are a chronic problem in their range.

One more thing. Gophers often eat the roots of plants before you see any hole or mound. The plant will then look a bit wilted, and you may think it needs water. But the next day, it will be almost totally dead. So if you see a wilted plant, tug at it gently. If it comes up and the roots are gone, a gopher ate it. That gopher will likely come back to that plant to finish it off. So, right away, dig a hole where the roots were until you find the gopher tunnel that leads to your now dead plant. Often the act of digging obscures the tunnel. Probe gently with fingers or a spade in the side of the hole you are digging. There is a tunnel there somewhere. Set a trap in that tunnel. You will likely have a gopher in your trap 24 hours later (or less).

Hope that helps. I hate gophers.

Oh, some people have had OK luck with noisemakers (have not worked for me), but most of the other remedies absolutely do not work. Don't bother with chewing gum, broken glass, ammonia, dog fur, etc. Flooding with a water hose usually doesn't work. It certainly will not drown the gopher. But it may cause the gopher to flee its hole so you can hit it with a shovel. But usually it doesn't work.

Traps definitely work, and so does poison, but with poison, you never know for sure if you got the gopher. Also, dogs and cats and hawks and owls eat gophers. Another reason to avoid poison.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 9:06PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Thanks! I have a large market garden I tend myself and have a huge gopher problem because I do no-till and use plastic mulch a lot. I put an ad on Craig's list to get help setting traps. A young guy came and set them and never came back. Now I have to start again. Yes the gopher problem is super extreme!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 9:11PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Here is my favorite gopher trap. I would purchase two and set them back to back, that way you get the rodent no matter which direction it comes from. Dh often baits the trap with a piece of carrot or something to help insure he gets them.

We used to use poison. One brand called Omega worked really well. I liked that one as it was brightly colored so I could see it and the gophers seemed to eat it. Other grain ones where it is just the coated grain did not seem to work as well and since it was just grain, I was afraid of collateral damage to other beneficials (like bieng worried about the chickens scratching in certain areas). Now we prefer the traps just so that we can confirm there is a dead body.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gopher trap on Amazon

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 9:14PM
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McKenzie: I agree that other mammals eat gophers, but I've never seen my pets "hunt" DEAD gophers that are UNDERGROUND.

I employ both methods, usually not resorting to the poison until they REALLY piss me off


    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 9:24PM
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Kevin, you are probably right.

But my dog does eat gophers. My fear would be that he would eat it between the time the gopher ate the poison and the time it died.

Also, he does dig after them sometimes. He can tell by smell when they are close. So it seems just possible that he might dig up a freshly dead gopher, if it happened to be near a hole.

Anyway, everyone's situation is different. I have acres of gopher, and the dog roams around out there without supervision sometimes. Most suburban pets probably have more supervision, and the scenario is much less likely.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 10:03PM
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Mckenzie: True. Better safe than sorry.


    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 1:06PM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

I used to poison, but then a neighbor's cat apparently died due to eating a rat that had been poisoned. No proof, but he was healthy enough before he came hunting at my house!
No more poison here. I use the chattering things you stick in the ground and have had good luck the last 3-4 years! Others don't think so, but I'm in a heavily infested area and only 1-2 gopher mounds in the area, maybe once a season, then they are gone! My fields are full of the little suckers, though! It tells me that they are working!
I do have all of my beds lined with hardware cloth, but, though it keeps the gophers out of the beds, they would still lurk around the garden hoping to find a hole in the wire. Since I've used the noise makers, pretty much nothing! Nancy

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 8:34PM
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Cats are very good at hunting gophers and they do eat them. I've seen some claims that cats are the most effective control, which I cant attest personally, but they certainly do a number on the voles here.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 9:14PM
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ltilton: you're right. Cats are very good at controlling them. The problem nowadays is the coyotes. They're pretty ballsy so leaving cats out at night is a risk. My cats haven't brought me a "trophy" in quite awhile.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 9:28PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I would have thought pocket gophers were too big and too underground to be caught by cats. Striped gophers would be easier. I HAVE BOTH REAL BAD.
I rent just over 1/2 acre field land and the gophers have been there for generations. There is one feral cat I have seen twice. She had kittens in the shed that I found last month and got homes for because it was winter. But when she has kittens in spring I am hoping they become gopher killers!
Meanwhile I may get the trap in the link. I am not good at that kind of thing (I'm just a girl LOL) but I get better at killing vermin every year.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 10:24PM
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If you have unprotected vegetables and see gopher holes or mounds nearby, it is too late for cats or dogs.

For the original poster, next year, build gopher proof beds. This year, put out traps. Traps are the only technique where you will know when you got the gopher. Any other method leaves you guessing.

I have seen pocket gophers venture out of their holes a short way. Sometimes they feed on above ground vegetation. A cat can get them at that time.

I have also seen my dog catch pocket gophers, The gophers aren't that big. I am sure any experienced outdoor hunting cat would have no problem killing a rodent the size of a pocket gopher.

Also, gophers are solitary. So they have to come out of their tunnels to find mates. And babies leave the maternal tunnel when they grow up. So there are definitely opportunities for above-ground predators.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 2:03AM
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nancyjane_gardener(Zone 8ish North of San Francisco in the "real" wine country)

Minnie, in the mean time, try to trap the cat and get her fixed! One little mama can turn into dozens in a couple of years!
Our Humane Society will fix and vaccinate ferel cats and return them to you for "mousers" for free.
We had a couple of litters that came from nowhere last year. We now have 4 mousers all fixed and vaccinated. =) Nancy

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 12:07PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

We are working on trapping her. She is feral so I know it will be a bad experience. We have to get it all planned out before setting the trap.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 10:16PM
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If gophers are anything like groundhogs then I've had success with smoke bombs, you just need to make sure there is no escape hole. Our local feed & seed stores have these in stock (called Revenge). Also, if trapping is preferred I have had good success with using raw sweet potato slices to lure them inside. Groundhogs are not easy to lure into a cage trap but they can't resist raw SP. Just place a few large slices in the rear of the trap and place one small thumb sized piece at the enterance of the trap. Once they have a taste they will go inside to get the rest. Happy hunting

    Bookmark   November 28, 2013 at 10:13AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

TRAP is the most practical way, if you do not want to use poison bait. Cats, dogs, may or may not be able to deal with rats, gophers, You have to get them one at a time.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 1:34AM
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rat trap with peanut butter always works. keep dogs away or train them it snaps. I took 13 gophers out of 1 hole.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 8:18AM
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wisbill: you mind telling us how you set up a RAT trap for gophers? Maybe a video?


    Bookmark   November 30, 2013 at 12:28PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Provided that you have patience & are not squeamish about killing gophers by hand, you can flood their tunnels. This would be impractical in sandy soil (such as you probably have, Minnie) but when I lived in California (in San Diego & San Jose) it worked quite well.

The soils where I gardened were very dense, and I was able to pump the water in faster than the soil could absorb it. Then you just have to be patient, and wait, shovel in hand. As the tunnel floods, the gopher will poke its head above ground to breath. When you see the motion, play "whack a mole". If you miss once, don't worry, it will have to come up again. They might even leave the burrow to run for it, but they don't run very fast, so you can catch them easily (or just whack them).

As several posters have already mentioned, gophers tend to be solitary... I usually only had to do this once or twice a year to control them. For minor infestations, if your soil is heavy, this is probably the best way - and you don't even need to buy the traps.

But if the local population is too large, you will probably want to use traps. Find the horizontal runs (which are the main burrows) by probing with a sharp stick. Work your way around the visible holes; you'll be able to feel where the run is by the lack of resistance when you push into the soil. That's where you want to place your traps for best results. Carefully dig into the burrow, being sure to leave no soil blockage. When done, as already mentioned, be sure to cover the hole... I used plywood, and covered the edges with soil so there would be no light or draft for the gopher to notice.

I gardened for 13 years in California, and only once were the gophers too much for me to control by the above methods... when I was in a community garden, and my neighbor let his plot go untended. As fast as I killed them, others would just move into the vacant burrows. :-(

    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 2:00AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

There are various kinds of mouse and rat traps. One is the old "spring Loaded" kind. If you are using them pay attention to the birds, dogs and cats. I would place those under a box with just a hole big enough for rats. I learned this years ago when I saw a poor bird falling victim.

Then there are the so-called "live Traps" . You can make your own or buy them(Haverty ?). You can make these large enough to take care of rabbits and squirrels. May also be effective on gophers too. I have no experience with gophers.

But the simplest one (for outdoor or in garage, for rats and mice) is a 5 gal. bucket trap. Just google/youtube.

I have seen rats drowned in half full 48 oz soda cup,( when I left one half full, some place that would not tip) This accidental trap though me something. It works best in the summer heat that they are looking for water.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2013 at 4:57AM
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I believe Zeedman has given very good advice there. I personally have not tried flooding. The soil here is somewhat sandy, but has clay, too. Flooding might work here. But at my previous house in San Francisco, it was very sandy with excellent drainage, and I am sure flooding would not have worked there.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2013 at 1:06AM
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An old farmer shared this with me some time back.
two cups bleach poured in a 10 ft. long sump pump dicharge hose[the kind that has those inside ridges that will let the bleach puddle and give off fumes] inserted into the tunnel a couple of feet and made airtight with rags or dirt with a hair dryer set on the no heat setting on the other end to blow the fumes down into the burrow for a few minutes works well. Use water from a garden hose to clean out all those ridges in the discharge hose when done and avoid breathing the fumes and keep kids and
pets away and do not do this close to buildings.. Cover the holes when done to trap the fumes eventhough bleach fumes are heavyer than air and will settel into the deepest parts of the den. This method has been known to discourage several types of burrowing rodents.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 3:20PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Sounds like bleach might work, but I'm not sure I would pour bleach into a vegetable garden, especially if the veggies are growing. Probably just blow the fumes in, and dump the remaining liquid elsewhere... like someone's pool (with their permission).

A word of caution.... I question how effective it would be to try to force fumes into a gopher burrow with a blower, since to blow fumes in, there would need to be somewhere for the air to blow out. In my experience, the burrows are closed on both ends - and finding & opening both ends would be a nearly impossible task. If the burrow is closed, the fumes (or liquid!) might just blow back in your face... so I would recommend extreme caution if trying that technique.

There are other ways that fumes can be used to kill animals in burrows, but most of them involve very toxic or explosive fumes, and it would, IMO, be irresponsible to list them here. There's just too much risk of serious - or fatal - injury. I would add that before pouring anything into a ground burrow, the contamination of ground water should be considered. You might try hooking a hose to your car exhaust; but more than likely the gopher will just quickly block the burrow when it smells them.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 11:21PM
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theforgottenone1013(MI zone 5b/6a)

The noxious components of bleach are what gives off the fumes. Those fumes and the chemicals in them will be absorbed by the soil. Causing all sorts of problems by killing off anything the bleach fumes come into contact with and killing anything that comes into contact with the now poisoned soil (rodents, worms, insects, microbes, the soil itself, plant roots, etc.). Plus, what if a pet or some other non-damaging critter eats something that was poisoned and killed by the bleach fumes? Not very responsible, in my opinion.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2013 at 9:55AM
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As has been mentioned already, owls and other birds of prey eat gophers. If you use poison, it is very possible that the gopher will eat it and then die on the surface of the ground. An owl can find it and eat it, and if so, the owl will die too. Then you will have even more problems with rodents, since there is now one less owl to keep the population down. For this reason, it is much better to avoid poisons. Stick to traps. For a good discussion on their use, see

Catching Gophers according to Alan Chadwick

Here is a link that might be useful: Alan Chadwick

    Bookmark   December 24, 2013 at 2:11PM
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You posted that same link before on another gopher thread. I followed it, but I didn't find anything useful about gophers. Maybe it is the wrong link or something. You might want to check it.


    Bookmark   December 27, 2013 at 1:27AM
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quone(10a Sunset 21)

I have pocket gophers. I read as many threads as I could stand, then went to work. I started with Juicy Fruit, the cheapest option. Nothing. Then moved on to pellets, gas and flooding. Nothing. The neighborhood cat tries, but is hit or miss. I ordered Cinch traps, and have a 100% success rate! Some are caught within an hour, but most are overnight. Minimal digging, traps don't get pulled in the tunnel, no need to block the hole after setting, proof that the pests are DEAD--what more could you ask for? The neighborhood cat has gotten better since I give him the dead ones, too. He has a taste for them now!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 3:06AM
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Thanks quone!

I use Macabee style traps. I will look into the cinch traps on the strength of your recommendation. The gum thing is a known myth. There is a researcher in UC Davis who was able to feed captive gophers juicy-fruit for an extended period. He observed no obvious ill-effect. Apparently they do eat it, though. It just doesn't hurt them.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 4:40PM
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