How to Kill or Get Rid of Pocket Gophers
Here is a compilation of all known methods to get rid of gophers.
You are on your own as to legal ramifications, local government bureaucracy, animal-rights groups, and whatever else may obstruct or sabotage your efforts. Also, be advised this is a compilation list, not a recommendation list. Have fun with it. Many of the items listed here will actually work. It won’t be difficult to ascertain which is which. Your results may vary.
Warning, some humor may be present.
Pocket Gopher Facts
(Know Your Enemy)
- The pocket gopher is a burrowing rodent found here, there, and everywhere. Their purpose in life seems to be the destruction of plants and land.
- They can measure up to a foot in length, depending on the species. They have sharp teeth and claws. Gophers, moles, and ground squirrels are often mistaken for each other. Extermination techniques are different for each.
- Gophers often plug their gopher holes, while the others do not.
- The gopher home is a complex system of tunnels running up to several hundred feet. The main gopher tunnels run about half a foot below the surface and are three inches or more in diameter. Chambers are created off the main tunnels for food storage and breeding nests. Excess soil is piled on the surface. Though most of the burrow system is relatively close to the surface, many parts of the complex can penetrate to as much as six feet deep.
- Pocket gopher families are loners and territorial. Their average territory is approximately 40x40 to 50x50 square feet, i.e., a 20 to 25 foot radius.
- Pocket gophers are active 365 days a year. Surface foraging is not their main forte and is only done very near the gopher hole entrances. Most of their feeding consists of the plant parts below ground.
- The breeding season for these vociferous and destructive critters is spring. The gestation period is estimated at three weeks. Litters average around five. Sometimes there are two litters per season. In late summer of the same year, the young disperse to create their own homes.
How to Get Rid of Them
- Run a hose from your vehicle’s exhaust pipe to the nearest gopher hole. With engine running, start covering up any other open gopher holes. If you live in a rural area and a pro-gun state, have your shotgun handy (check local gun ordinances first).
- Running a garden hose to the gopher complex seldom works, but it is worth a try, especially if the shotgun option is available. More about the water method further down the page.
- Go to your hardware store and ask for advice. Keep in mind the store clerk’s objective is to sell you something.
- Drop gum down the gopher holes. It is rumored it will mess up their internal organs.
- Show them gay-themed gopher movies (admittedly this one is a long shot).
- Traps work when directions are followed. Gophinator seems to be popular.
- Gopher bombs sometimes work when directions are followed. The problem is the several hundred feet of tunnels; the gas just isn't able to make it throughout the entire system.
- Macabee traps are recommended by “everybody”. They work, but require work.
- Dynamite. However, you may run into local ordinance permit problems with this one.
- Poison. Follow the directions. Apparently one needs to use a lot of it.
- Last, but not least, as to this primary list; cats kill gophers. Drop by your local animal shelter and tell them you need an outdoor cat. And tell them why. They will very probably know exactly which cat to give you. As to what the animal shelter will charge you for the cat, there can be a wide variance. It all depends on which county you happen to live in. There is also the very real possibility the cat may just up and disappear before they figure out you intended to feed and take care of them.
More methods are included further down the page.
Running a Garden Hose Into the Gopher Complex
Yep, it does not work. In fact, it can turn into the opposite. A personal story:
Gopher mounds here; gopher mounds there; gopher mounds everywhere. I was nonplussed. And then one day I walked out to the apricot tree. There it was; an open gopher hole. He had not covered it up as usual. I immediately got the garden hose and pushed it into the gopher hole. I turned the water on half-force; no backup. So I turned the water on full-force; still no backup. I went away.
I came back an hour later. There was dampness around the hole, but still no backup.
I came back a half-hour after that; the area was flooded. "My work is done here," I thought. Called it a day. Shut off the hose. All was well in the neighborhood.
Not only did it not work, they apparently took it personally. I mean seriously, we seem to attribute emotions and attitudes only to humans, but animals have them as well.
First one new dirt pile showed up. "Ok," I thought.
But then another and another and another. The placed had turned from a beachhead into central command. Was it personal? Or did they just like the water supply? You decide. At least the experiment was not a total loss; my house ant invasion problem suddenly ceased.
Update. Two commenters had better success than I did. See next section.
Suggestions From Comments Section
- Moth balls. Apparently gophers don't like them. See comments for full description and attribution.
- Catch-them-alive traps. Then take them far, far away. See comments for full details and attribution.
- Auto flares. I really liked the sound of this one. See comments for full details and attribution.
- Take no prisoners. See Frank in the comments Section.
- Caster oil. Use after the bottle rockets and Roman candles. See Larry in the comments section.
- Gopher bomb recipe. Chris in the comments section says how. I should mention that saltpeter is the primary ingredient used in gunpowder, so be sure your health and life insurance policies are up to date and the premiums are paid in full.
- Water hose in Gopher hole (method #1). Tea Ga in the comments section had better luck than I did. Looks like perseverance is the key and I was a slacker in that regard.
- Water hose in gopher hole (method #2). Gopher golf! I love it! See Charles' comment.
- Instead of using your car's exhaust, use your gas-powered lawnmower. See Buck's comment. Much more convenient.
Disposing of Dead Gophers
- Place on top of fence post for the larger birds.
- Sell them on eBay. Important note: health laws may require you take them to a taxidermist first.
- Give to your cat.
- Bury them next to your plant most in need of fertilizer, talk about sweet revenge...
Keeping Them Away
- Sprinkle hot spices where you don’t want the gophers to be.
- Bury chicken-wire beneath where you don’t want the gophers to be.
- Mix broken glass where you don’t want the gophers to be.
Ultrasonic, electronic, vibration, and magnetic-field devices do not appear to work. So save your money on those.
About the Comments Section
Do you have a method not listed here? Odds are you do. This is a continually evolving page. If so inclined, add your own method in the comments section below. If deemed worthy, it will be included in future versions of this page.
Shared opinions and experiences you've had with various types and brands of traps would also be much appreciated. If your story can save another reader some grief or aggravation, that is always a good thing.
Sporadic humor aside, it is sincerely hoped this page has given you the information you need. Gophers are indeed obnoxious little critters.