Gophers can be a real pain to farmers and homeowners everywhere, destroying plants and trees and creating holes that can be a tripping hazard. They also just make your property or business area an ugly mess by leaving piles of dirt everywhere.
In this article, we offer a few suggestions to deal with this annoyance that we promise will serve you better than the ones Bill Murray employed in Caddyshack. Before continuing, make sure to check what the laws are in your area regarding gophers and what is legal or illegal when it comes to dealing with them.
Gopher traps come in various forms, including plastic cylinders, box traps, and wire traps. These are usually placed just inside a tunnel opening. If at all possible, do not disturb the surrounding area as this will signal that something is wrong.
Be sure to wear gloves when touching the bait as gophers can easily detect human scent and will stay away if they get a hint of your smell. Periodically check and empty the traps of any gopher carcasses.
You can find several different kinds of poisons at your local stores to help deal with the gopher problem. They’re usually made of seed or grain and come in the form of pellets coated with the specific poison. You know, the poison for gophers. Gopher’s poison. The pellets are then placed into the tunnels either by hand or via dispensers that get the poison much deeper into the ground.
Whichever method you choose, again be sure to avoid touching the bait and do the placing when out of the sight of other animals. You don’t want your dog to see you put a tasty treat into the ground onto to have them dig it up later.
3. Smoke em’ out
Another widely available product, rodent smoke bombs cause suffocating smoke to seep into gopher tunnels and dens. Be sure to closely follow the directions on how to place and ignite these devices, which come in different types and sizes.
While effective deterrents for gophers, these products do not contain harmful chemicals, making them safe for humans and pets. On the downside, if the gophers do not die, they tend to return after a time, so smokers are usually not a permanent solution.
We’re not talking about the kind that Schwarzenegger had to deal with, these ones are much smaller and don’t have lasers.
Encourage predators that feed on gophers to take refuge on your property. Owl nesting boxes are commercially available at most pet stores at a low price. Setting one up in the area where the gophers are will encourage a barn owl to take up residence.
While not a guarantee of completing eliminating your problem, the owl will both get rid of gophers and discourage more from tunneling into your property. Dogs are also helpful to have around (depending on the type).
5. Castor Oil
If you are adverse to killing gophers, you can try Castor Oil pellets. Like their human counterparts, gophers hate the taste of castor oil and this helps persuade them to leave your lawn, garden or golf course in peace.
This method also does not include any chemicals and so it’s completely safe for your plant life and domesticated animals. It also works well on other burrowing annoyances, such as moles, voles and armadillos.
6. Kitty litter
Another humane method comes courtesy of cat litter. Gophers are unsurprisingly afraid of cats, so try dumping a good quantity of used cat litter down into the tunnels. This will create the impression of a cat being nearby and encourage gophers to flee. Mounds of dog poop will also work in this case.
7. Go supersonic
One safe way to encourage gophers to leave is to use sonic devices. Usually shaped like spikes, these are placed into the ground, where they emit sonic sound waves that gophers find annoying.
The best of these battery operated products send the sound out in a circular pattern to make sure the animals can’t avoid it. They do not do any permanent damage to the gophers, but it makes it clear that is not an area they should be in.
8. Homemade solutions
If you’d rather make your own gopher problem solver, there are a few that have proven effective. These rodents hate strong smells, so try placing coffee grounds, mothballs or dryer sheets into gopher holes and cover them with some soil.
Gophers also have a sweet-tooth for soft candy and gum, but eating these things can be deadly for them since they can’t digest it. Other food products the animals hate include tabasco sauce, pepper, and other strong spices. Soak cotton balls in a mixture of one or more of these and drop them down the holes.
If these methods fail (or you don’t feel like doing it yourself), there are professional extermination services you can use. Gophers are a common complaint, so they will no doubt already have a means in place for this sort of problem. Do your research and choose one that has a good reputation and competitive pricing.
And finally, here are ones that many people choose because they seem simple, but you should avoid at all costs…
This seems quick and easy: place a garden hose in the tunnel, turn it on and drown the critters. Unfortunately, the burrows where gophers live are always on higher ground than the tunnels, so the water has no effect on them. You’ll most likely end up wasting water and it can end up causing a flood somewhere you probably don’t want one.
In the past, it was a commonly accepted practice to run a hose from the exhaust pipe of your vehicle into a gopher tunnel in order to poison the creatures with exhaust fumes.
While this may have had an effect on the gopher population, carbon monoxide is extremely dangerous and prolonged exposure is fatal for humans as well. Just because you are not breathing these fumes while your car is idling doesn’t mean the smoke isn’t affecting other people in your area.
Gophers have some valuable purposes in the cycle of nature, but can also be an annoying pest. If you have a gopher problem, try some of the methods we have suggested. If at all possible, choose ones that will cause as little possible harm to your property, the humans around it, and the good animals that live there. If these fail, call in the exterminator to get the job done for you.