How to get rid of gophers

Gophers are dangerous pests and they can simply destroy your entire garden, killing all your precious plants, flower-beds and crops. If you find a couple of holes in your garden, try not to panic, because the gopher (like any other creature) will eventually leave your garden. One can find hundreds of gopher eliminating methods posted by other users on the web, but we talked with scientists and discovered: How to get rid of gophers in a fast and efficient manner, and selected the best eight gopher traps, poisons and repellents.

Table of Contents:

  1. What do gophers eat and why are they so dangerous?
  2. Gopher facts: Behavior and habits
  3. Gophers: Let’s listen the opinion of scientists
  4. How to catch a gopher: the TOP-3 killing & live catch gopher traps
  5. How to repel gophers: Best natural repellents and electronic repellents
  6. How to poison gophers: Best poisons and bait applicator
  7. Popular methods of gophers control: Which are useful and which are useless?

What do gophers eat and why are they so dangerous?

  1. Gophers destroy plants. This species can be called one of the most dangerous of underground animals, because they not only create tunnels under your plants, but also eat all roots and fruits.
  2. Gophers kill earthworms, which are incredibly useful for the soil. Earthworms can be considered as a kind of “underground gardener”, because they keep the level of soil fertility. The basic diet of gophers includes not only roots and fruits, but also earthworms and their larvae. Such a situation will negatively affect the fertility level of your soil.
  3. Tunnels created by gophers significantly affect the distribution of water. If you are using an automatic irrigation system in your garden, the existence of gophers can become a serious problem for you. If you don’t notice a tunnel of a gopher immediately, you will definitely notice it later when your plant will wilt.

Gopher facts: Behavior and habits

  1. Gophers prefer wet and loose soil. It’s easier to create a system of tunnels in this type of soil. That’s why the most accurate and well-groomed gardens are so popular amongst these dangerous creatures.
  2. Gophers prefer to stay alone. Unlike moles, which prefer to create small “communes”, gophers are not the biggest fans of giant communities, thus when two gophers meet each other, they usually start to fight.
  3. Gophers are night animals. It’s almost impossible to see a gopher outside of his hole during day time, thus it’s pretty useless to battle with them until night comes.
  4. Gophers don’t sleep in winter. This animal is active throughout the year; thus don’t think that gophers will stop building their tunnels in winter.
  5. Gophers are powerful enemies. Even though they are relatively small animals, they consist of pure muscle. These vermin can easily move through tunnels using their frontal legs, digging the ground, as well as using their rear legs to run away in case of “emergency”.

Gopher control: Let’s listen the opinion of scientists

how to get rid of gophers

One can use various methods and devices to get rid of the gopher, but not all of them are approved and welcomed within the scientific community. For example, according to the scientists, widely used fumigants are not efficient in many cases: “Most fumigants, such as gas cartridges, are not effective because gophers quickly seal off their tunnels when they detect the smoke or poison gases,” experts from the University of California explain. The only one gas that can affect gophers is aluminum phosphide: “However, aluminum phosphide (permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use) can be very effective if applied to tunnels during a time of year when the soil is moist enough to retain the toxic gas. This is typically in winter and up to early spring.” This method is more appropriate for farmers who need to get rid of gophers on an industrial scale.

General users don’t have waste their time and get special permits, because one can simply use various traps. It’s worth noting that such traps are efficient only in cases when the total number of gophers is relatively small, and this method requires more time than poisoning.

Experts from the University of Nebraska thoroughly studied all popular methods of gopher elimination and their conclusion won’t make fans of such methods really happy: “Mothballs and other home remedies frequently fail to work because the animals will likely close and reroute their burrow if the odor or taste is obnoxious to them”.

After learning the opinions of experts, we can now choose the most efficient gopher fighting methods - traps, poisons and repellents!

How to catch a gopher: The TOP-3 killing & live catch gopher traps

Gophers do not live in big families within your garden, so a trap can be one of the simplest, yet efficient methods to get rid of this vermin. We recommend using a combination of traps and repellents. There are two main types of traps in the market — killing and live-catch. We are going to tell you about the best models, and you can choose which one best suits your needs.

Victor The Black Box Gopher Trap 0625

Victor The Black Box Gopher Trap 0625

One of the most popular killing traps for gophers for ~$11.96. This device works as a choker loop. In order to install this model, one has to find a gopher tunnel and put the trap with bait inside it, and covering it with soil. Have you already installed it? Now you need to be patient, because tunnel systems are usually expanded and gophers won’t immediately run to the tunnel with your bait. The death loop will catch the gopher immediately when he puts his head in to take the bait. Gophers have pretty big skulls, thus they won’t be able to get out of the trap. This device requires proper installation. The black box has to be right on the tunnel level. If you put it a bit lower or higher, gophers will just dig under your device, leaving the danger zone unharmed.

Price: ~$11.96 Check the current price

Victor Easy Set Gopher Trap 0610 (2-pack)

Victor Easy Set Gopher Trap 0610

A killing gopher trap by Victor for ~$10.70 (2-pack). It involves the very popular “snap trap” principle, but the system was modified to work with more massive bodies of the gopher. Such devices are usually installed under the ground in one of the gopher tunnels. If you use repellents, your task will be easier, because gophers become very careless when they are in panic, thus there’s a high chance that they will get right into your trap.

An alternative way of installation is to locate the trap right in the middle of your yard, adding some very attractive bait inside. This way can be used only if you don’t have a dog that can scare gophers out.

Price: ~$10.70 (2-pack) Check the current price

OxGord Live Animal Trap 24" X 7" X 7" Catch Release Humane Rodent Cage for Rabbits, Stray Cat, Squirrel, Raccoon, Mole, Gopher, Opossum, Skunk & Chipmunks Steel Outdoor Professional Grade

gopher trap

A humane trap for various vermin can also be used for gophers. It has one entrance and a mechanism located in the center of the trap where one has to put bait. After activating the device, its door is closed and the gopher is locked inside it. After catching the gopher, you can move it somewhere far away from your garden. A combination of such traps and repellents is not really efficient, because animals in panic will have no interest in the bait inside the trap. If you want to catch more gophers, don’t try to locate this trap just in the middle of your yard, choose more secret places in bushes. Use your initiative and do your best to disguise the trap.

Price: ~$24.95 Check the current price

Gopher repellents: Two natural repellents and an electronic repellers

As with other vermin, repellents are effective during a short period of time, because animals will get used to it in a while. But this method is great if you want to scare gophers in your garden and use the trapping method to catch them.

Castor oil gopher repellent granules

Castor oil gopher repellent granules

Scientists believe that castor oil can be efficient in scaring gophers out of your garden. But all of them say: “This method can be called a humane one, but it’s not efficient if you need to use it on a large scale”. Let’s look at situations when castor oil repellents can be used.

These granules will not be efficient in getting rid of hundreds of gophers, but will help to create some kind of a defensive “wall” for new gophers. You need to pour these granules along the border of your garden and gophers (as well as moles, voles and other close rodents) won’t disturb you as long as the granules keep their aroma. That’s why such repellents can be used only in initial stages when gophers just start to appear in your garden or even as a preventative measure. Two main gopher repellents are considered as best selling ones:  Bonide 692150 Mole Max and Vole Repellent Granules and Sweeney's Mole & Gopher Repellent. They are totally equal, but the model from Bonide is heavier and its 10lbs can cover up to 5000 sq ft. (while 4lbs of Sweeney’s granules can cover up to 2000 sq ft). It’s no surprise that the first product is more expensive. You need to choose the model, which is more suitable for your garden.

Price of Bonide Repellent Granules (10 lbs): ~$21.30 Check the current price

Price of Sweeney's Mole & Gopher Repellent granules (4lbs): ~$10.14 Check the current price

NB! If gophers have been living in your garden for a long time and you have some very expensive plants, this method can’t be used. Maybe that’s why these granules are not so popular, and people simply start to use them when it’s too late? If you pour granules along the border, gophers won’t be able to leave your garden, thus they will start to dig new tunnels, as they’re trying to run away from the obnoxious smell. As a result, a lot of your precious plants will be destroyed during such craziness. In case you suffer from a lot of gophers, we recommend that you choose more powerful traps and poisons.

Electronic ultrasonic gopher repeller – Vensmile Solar Powered Repeller

Electronic ultrasonic gopher repeller

An ultrasonic repeller is a great substitution for repellent granules. The main task of this device looks similar to the purpose of granules – it has to scare gophers, making them get out of their holes and run into your traps. This device is equipped with convenient solar panels, thus you can install it and forget about any maintenance.

Vensmile Repeller creates an ultrasonic signal, which makes gophers crazy. According to scientists, such devices are not useful, and they can’t protect giant farm fields. However, this device can be a great choice to protect your own garden. One of the main life hacks is the combination of ultrasonic repeller with traps. Gophers will leave their homes under the influence of ultrasound, which will make them less cautious. They will run around and definitely get into one of your traps. Another option is to combine this device with various poisons, but we will discuss such an approach in the following section.

Price:~$19.99 Check the current price

How to poison gophers: The best poison bait and bait applicator

A poison is one of the easiest ways to fight vermin according to many users. But this method is not safe or humane, because poisoning is strictly prohibited or requires special permits in some states. That’s why we recommend you to check your local laws before starting such radical methods.

Best poison bait pellets – Sweeney's  Mole & Gopher Poison Peanuts S6006

Best gopher poison bait

Loose poison for just ~$9.84, which can be used as a bait applicator (more information below), as well as in manual mode. Please note that gophers won’t eat this poison if they have a lot of different food around them, thus poison is mixed with the bait. It’s recommended to put this poison only in the working tunnels of gophers where they constantly move. How can one identify a working tunnel? The manufacturer gives the following recommendation: destroy a small part of a tunnel, mark this place with a marking flag and check it next day. If the tunnel is restored, that means it’s a working tunnel and you can use poison inside!

This option is more efficient than arsenic, which is recommended by many “experts” on the web.

Price: from ~$9.84 Check the current price

Yard Butler IGBA-1 Gopher/Mole Bait Applicator

poison bait applicator

In order to put poison into the hole, one often needs a special device — a bait applicator. It looks like a long distributing pipe, which is used to deliver poison. By using this device, one can put poison everywhere, without the need to dig the tunnel or damage it. Maybe it’s easier to use your hands? Of course it’s not, especially if you want to use poison on a flower-bed or an area with plants where gophers are not living yet. This device won’t leave any sign after using it and it can be used with all types of dry poison.

Price: ~$29.99 Check the current price

Popular methods of gopher control: Which are useful and which are useless?

We collected the worst and the best methods all over the web, from people who tell about various methods of vermin elimination. The gopher is a very specific animal. Very often they move on the ground, which makes methods for other underground animals (like the installation of an underground fence along the border of your garden) totally useless.

Useless and adverse methods of gopher control

  1. Gopher elimination with exhaust fumes. A very popular advice. It’s recommended to connect the pipe of your car with the tunnel system and start your engine. Such a method will definitely kill all animals in the tunnels, but it will also kill all the fertility of your soil.
  2. Using human or animal feces to scare gophers. Yes, some people recommend it. Shall we say that such method will only scare your neighbors, but not gophers?
  3. Closing all the tunnels. Just take a shovel and close all the tunnels, what can be easier? But this is not effective. Vermin with big teeth will restore all their tunnels and holes in less than a day.

Useful and working method

This option was approved by experts from the University of Nebraska. One has to open a working tunnel, dig a hole and install a bucket, covered with petroleum jelly. Then cover the area with a board or a panel. Soon the gopher will move through this area and he will fall down into the bucket. Petroleum jelly won’t allow the gopher to run out of the bucket, even though he has sharp claws. After catching the gopher, you can take him far away from your lovely garden. It’s worth noting that gophers have incredibly sharp teeth, so you have to be very careful.

Your war with gophers can become more difficult because they don’t stay under the ground all the time. If you install un “underground fence”, the animal will use other ways to reach your garden. That’s why you have to use a multifaceted measures. Fortunately for us, gophers don’t live in big families, thus we can use even the simplest traps to catch them, killing the rest with poison. The main thing is your patience. We recommend that you use only well-proven products, which we have summarized in the following table.

Gopher Traps, Poisons and Repellents Comparison Chart

Product Type of product Is it safe to use near kids and pets? Price

Victor The Black Box Gopher Trap 0625

Killing gopher trap Yes, because the trap is installed under the ground

~$11.96

Victor Easy Set Gopher Trap 0610 (2-pack)

Killing gopher trap Yes, because the trap is installed under the ground

~$10.20

OxGord Live Animal Trap 24" X 7" X 7" Catch Release Humane Rodent Cage

Live catch gopher trap Yes

~$24.95

Bonide 692150 Mole Max and Vole Repellent Granules

Natural repellent Yes

~$21.30

Sweeney's Mole & Gopher Repellent

Natural repellent Yes

~$10.14

Vensmile Solar Powered Repeller

Electronic ultrasonic repeller Yes

~$19.99

Sweeney's Mole & Gopher Poison Peanuts S6006

Poison bait No. Don’t place in areas accessible to children and pets

from ~$9.84

Yard Butler IGBA-1 Gopher/Mole Bait Applicator

Bait applicator Yes, this device is harmless without bait installed inside

~$29.99