Are you a first-time gardener? Have you noticed random gopher tunnels and holes in your yard? Are you wondering how to get rid of gophers without killing them?
Are you worried burrowing pests may be eating your produce?
How to Get Rid of Gophers Without Killing Them?
The best way to get rid of gophers without killing them is to plant scented plants, using oils, scattering repellents, building meshes.
Let us introduce a common rodent pest that every seasoned gardener has dealt with, the gopher.
Though cute, they may multiply quickly and establish a colony to eradicate all those vegetables you grew with such hard work.
How do I get rid of gophers humanely?
Kudos to your kind soul that is thinking about getting rid of gophers and doing it humanely. Often, they behave like such annoying pests’ gardeners just want to get rid of them quickly, even if it means taking their lives.
Here are some ways to humanely rid your yard of gophers:
- Eliminating their food source
- Showering liquid repellents: like scented oils, fish juices, tabasco sauce etc
- Dispersing repellent granules
- Using barriers
- Installing gopher meshes lined with galvanized wire: these will stop them from digging holes and making tunnels in your yard, but they may be able to harm your produce by eating the roots and tubers that grow through the mesh.
- Using ultrasonic devices
- Using catch traps and releasing them away from your home
- Using dryer sheets: the fragrance from dryer sheets repels gophers! Stuff these in every hole/tunnel you can find the gophers will find a new lawn to wreak havoc on.
- Planting fragrant plants: Lots of herbs and plants like thyme, marigolds, Lavender etc. do an excellent job of keeping these rodents away. You can landscape your garden in such a way that these aromatic plants make up the border and all your veggies grow peacefully in the center.
How do you get rid of gophers fast?
Usually, the fastest ways to get rid of gophers are not the most humane. These include:
Most effective during springtime, poison baits are very effective at quickly ridding your lawn of gophers.
Be very cautious while using them as accidental ingestion of these can cause toxicity in other animal populations as well including your own pets.
Apply some bait like peanut butter and wait for the gopher to be caught. Once caught, release them away from your house if it’s a humane trap or discard the corpse.
Fill up the tunnels and holes to discourage new gophers from moving in.
Fumigation or Flooding
Gassing/flooding gopher tunnels does get rid of gophers quickly when it works.
These smart rodents can very effectively block the gas or water out thanks to their extensive tunnel system. Flooding is reported to be more effective than fumigation.
What do gophers hate the most?
This may come as a surprise but there are so many natural repellants you can use to get gophers scurrying away!
Gophers have a keen sense of smell and if they smell something they don’t like they’re bound to run away. Here is a list of natural repellants and homemade remedies you can use:
- Castor oil, Peppermint oil: both these oils have strong smells that gophers detest. Spread a few drops of the oil around the area you want to protect or right at the entrance of their tunnels. On ingestion, castor oil causes laxative-like effects of gophers and tastes terrible.
- Fish: place scraps of fish near the entrance or inside tunnels
- Mothballs: these contain naphthalene which is the main substance that repels gophers. Drop a few mothballs in the tunnels and plug the hole.
- Tabasco sauce: combined with castor and peppermint oil or by itself is quite effective in keeping these pesky rodents away.
- Gopher-repellant plants: Growing plants that exude strong smells like thyme, sage, daffodils etc also work as natural gopher repellants!
Do coffee grounds repel gophers?
Coffee grounds are amongst the many homemade remedies you can use to keep gophers away from your precious produce.
After brewing your coffee, you can use the leftover coffee grounds to fertilize your plants and repel gophers. Additionally, you can also sprinkle these into gopher tunnels and cover them with soil.
The way this works is coffee grounds give off a very distinct, strong odor that does not appeal to a gopher or even mole nose. Thus, they stay away. Be cautious to supplement the soil with nitrogen if you use coffee grounds regularly.
Oregon state university conducted a study in which they found that large amounts coffee grounds, when used as fertilizer causes growth of microorganisms but this in turn depletes the nitrogen levels of the soil as the microorganisms use this to grow.
What time of day are gophers most active?
Gophers are diurnal animals and are most active during all hours of the day. They’re also visibly active and destructive during spring and fall when the weather is warmer, and the soil content is perfect for digging.
With that being said, it is important to keep in mind that gophers don’t hibernate so they’re active all year round even though they may not come onto the surface from underground. They can also stay active during the night.
Gophers are solitary animals and live alone in their extensive burrow system. They are only be found in a group during breeding season or when a mum is tending to her litter.
Because gophers are fossorial animals, they spend majority of their lives underground right from foraging, living to even giving birth underground.
We only consider them active when they’re evidently above ground or destroying vegetation.
Can you flood a gopher hole?
Yes, you can flood a gopher hole. Gopher holes are not always readily visible and therefore a lot of people rely on water to reach the mounds and drive them out.
Flooding does not have a 100% success rate. It usually works better for newer colonies, and during late winter or early spring, I.e before breeding season. It also must be dramatic and quick to increase efficacy.
There are a couple of ways to do this:
- Prepare a few 5-gallon buckets of water and get some assistants to help you pour them down all the gopher holes at the same time.
- Block out a few holes. Then insert a garden hose and keep the water running for about half an hour. The gophers should try and escape from the remaining holes you kept open.
- Another method is to block out all the holes and only keep one open, but this results in death by drowning and is not the most ethical way to eradicate them.
What are signs of a gopher in your yard?
When suspecting an underground rodent infestation in your yard, it seems difficult to differentiate between gophers, moles and voles. Here are the distinct signs that the pest uprooting your precious vegetables is a gopher:
- Fan shaped mounds of mud
- Lower – pit shaped mound with raised crescent shaped or semicircle ridge encircling the low spot
- Bigger chunks of soil (flung out by gopher when digging)
- One side of the mound will have no dirt (because gophers try not to come out of the ground completely as they risk exposing themselves to predators)
- Sudden appearance of dirt mounds – that may progressively multiply
- Fan shaped when gopher is actively digging
- Round or oval shaped when excavation has ended, and tunnel entry point has been plugged/blocked with soil
- Any unexpected, sudden loss/damage to vegetation
What attracts Gophers to your yard?
2 main things attract gophers to your yard. Food and shelter.
Yards, golf courses, gardens all provide wonderful soil that is easy to dig. It’s also a great place to build extensive tunnel systems. Wherever the ground is healthy, cool, moist, loose and sandy you will find gophers.
Gophers are strict herbivores, but they eat all plants they can lay their hands on. This is perhaps the number one reason why you just spotted a gopher in your yard. They love feeding on plant roots and tubers.
If you’ve got a healthy garden, it satisfies the 2 main things gophers look for and therefore, they settle in and start digging through your entire yard and feeding and uprooting your hard-earned plants and vegetables.
They may even start nibbling on grass at the surface.
Since gophers are also prey animals, they need protection. This may be why they make burrows under fence lines, bushes or sometimes even under the house!
How deep do gopher tunnels go?
According to an article by the University of California, the burrow systems of pocket gophers can cover an area of 200-2000 square feet. They are about 2.5-3.5 inches in diameter.
They have 2 types of burrows. The nesting and food storing burrows can be as deep as 6 feet underground whereas the feeding chambers are only about 6-12 inches below ground.
Gophers take a very sophisticated approach to building their underground homes.
Their main burrow system is connected to the surface by short, sloping lateral tunnels. They also seal the opening of their tunnels with dirtballs and soil plugs.