What are Gophers?
Gophers are medium-sized rodents that usually live underground and are deemed to be pests by a lot of people.
Their burrowing skills can be from 200 to 2,000 square feet and contains numerous gopher ridges. Gophers are also called by the name ‘pocket gophers’, receiving it because of their fur-lined cheek pockets, that they use to store food and other things so that they can build their nests.
Gophers are equipped to live subsurface, depending mostly on the touch to be around their burrow network. They have small eyes and ears, fine fur and they use their whiskers and tail to track their developments.
Physical Characteristics of Gophers
There are 10 to 13 species currently, living in the U.S. While they live in different regions but they still share some common features:
- Their height is between 5 to 14 inches and they weigh around 6 ounces to 2 ounces.
- Their fur varies from black to light brown and to white.
- They all have small eyes and ears, making them depend solely on their sensibility of touch.
- Their front body is strong, their neck is short and their head is small. They also have long claws on their feet.
What do gophers eat?
Gophers are famous for being hoarders. They use their cheek pouches to collect food before taking it to their burrows. Gophers are omnivores and are said to like berries, nuts, bulbs, grass, leaves, and insects.
60% of its body weight
Use the moisture present in the food
Roots, Nuts, seeds, bulbs, grass, insects, berries and leaves.
The Gopher Life Cycle
Gophers never sleep and are active the whole day. Though the surface is a bit unique and the tunnel structure-activity can halt or slow them down during the colder seasons. Breeding activities usually begin during late winters or early springs.
Gophers can have 1 to 3 litters a year, each commonly including 5 to 6 young ones, relying on the regional and environmental conditions.
Gophers are generally loners with their only anomaly being a mother with her offspring. The young one achieves the sexual maturity when it’s one year old and then it proceeds ahead to make its own territory.
Gophers can live up to 36 months and a single acre of territory can be a home to as many as almost 60 gophers at a time.
Where do gophers live?
Gophers can be found all around the North America, They can be found in Trees or glass prairies and also at the seaside and the mountain areas. They spend their days near soft soils where they can make their underground burrows.
These enormous networks often contain thousands of gophers. Gophers are attracted toward moist and light-textured soil with edible vegetation.
Regional North America
Subsurface tunnel systems, 18 inches below the ground; nesting tunnels, up to 6 feet below ground
Up to 700 yards
Day and Night
Problems caused by Gophers
If horse shoe shaped heaps are visible on the lawns and gardens then this is a strong indication that gophers are invading that space. Following listed are the problems which may be caused by the gophers.
Gophers ruin lawn
While burrowing their tunnels subsurface, gophers cause two kinds of damage to the lawn. First, the holes they dig in the soil reduce the quality of the soil and the yard. If there is a cave-in, one can end up with bigger surface holes.
Second, since gophers are simple vegetarians, they consume the roots of the grass while they burrow and sometimes they pull the blades of the grass to survive.
Flowers and Trees start becoming food for gophers
The grass is not the only food stream for gophers. While underground, they may also begin feeding on the roots of the plants, trees and flowers. And it is also possible that they can start feeding on the bulbs, if they are planted in the same garden.
Since gophers do not live underground, these rodents can also start feeding on the bedding plants as well.
Dirt Heaps Become a Walking Risk
Gophers don’t just present a danger to the lawn and landscaping but they can also present a threat to the people living in that household. Because the dirt heaps made by the gophers are a walking risk for humans.
This is because the heap is hollow from the inside and if one passes through it and put their foot on the heap, they can get a serious injury. The unexpected, surprising fall could bump your foot, ankle, or leg.
There’s even a chance of twisting or breaking of the ankles, if the foot is stuck in the hole. And if a gopher is under the mud and near the heap, they may try to bite whoever’s foot is inside, introducing another possible health hazard, as discussed below.
Gophers Carry Infections
As mammals, gophers have the potential to pass on rabies. Although they do not show symptoms themselves, they can give it to the person by biting them.
Nonetheless, rabies is not the only infection which can be spread through these mammals. Gophers carry other severe infections as well, such as the monkeypox, plague, and hanta virus.
Monkeypox is one of the common infections which are found in the gophers. This starts with flu like symptoms, such as bodyache, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. As it advances, tiny pustules can be seen on the skin.
Nine ways to get rid of Gophers Naturally
Natural gopher eviction simply “encourages” gophers to burrow somewhere else. And the below listed ways are what a person needs to get rid of Gophers.
1. Garden Plants that Repel Gophers
When planning a lawn or a garden, a person may choose such plants those Gophers don’t prefer.
Plant them around the boundary of your lawn and around the edges of your lawn beds.
- All the poppies but specially the Californian poppies calm both human and Gophers, this will make them go back to their tunnel after they eat the roots of the poppies. Californian poppies if planted around rose plants, rhododendrons, azaleas, and ornamental shrubs, can help safeguard the bigger plants.
- Foxglove (digitalis) gives both human and gophers heart vibrations. Like California poppy roots, foxglove roots will make the Gophers go back to their tunnel to get their blood pressure normal.
- Eucalyptus leaf and eucalyptus root discourages the entrance of gophers into the landscape.
- Oleanders are poisonous to gophers and humans. Both oleander leaves and oleander roots can prevent the entry of gophers.
- Botta’s pocket gopher are the type of gopher which are most frequently found in Southern California these are repelled by clustered tarweed, a minor native daisy found in Southern California and Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay Region.
- Garlic is also really useful to get rid of Gopher, and it can also get rid of many other pests.
2. Psychological operations to get rid of Gophers
Gophers will go where they don’t have to spend their energy to protect themselves against the buzzards. Fear-provoking noise can make Gophers leave the Yard but it is important to use a variety of fear-provoking noises at the same time and also to avoid using the same procedure for more than two weeks at a time.
Among the noise-makers that gophers avoid, vibrating risks and sonic obstacles can also be used.
Gopher predators can also be used if not the psychological operations..
Dogs, coyotes, hawks, cats, owls, wolves, and foxes, these all kill the gophers. But wolves and foxes may not be used for household area, so the dogs and the cats are the best option to hunt down the gophers.
3. Using the smells which gophers don’t like.
Gophers try to escape the smell of bleach, cigarettes, household ammonia, doggy doo, chicken manure, rotten fish and mothballs.
Placing these materials near a gopher tunnel may make the gopher to go somewhere else and may keep a gopher from burrowing into the flower bed.
Products like mothballs work reasonably underneath decks, where they also prohibit skunks and raccoons.
4. Castor oil
First there should be a solution of castor oil which can be spread easily, for that purpose, one need to take 240ml of castor oil with the same amount of dish detergent mixing it with 240 ml of water.
After making this mixture add 4liter of gallon in it. If this mixture is applied near or on the gopher heap, it will make them go away as they can’t stand with the smell of castor oil.
5. Safeguard the root systems of plants with mesh wire
Gopher burrows are normally about 2 inches wide and the wire that has a mesh of 1 inch or smaller, this may dishearten gophers so they turn around before they make their way to the roots.
The right time to use wire mesh to safeguard plants is when they are picked out. Dig a hole which is smaller than 3 inches to 2 feet deep for the plant. Then cut 3 or 4 feet long strip of mesh wire and place it around the boundary of the hole. Then tie the two ends together.
Fill the hole over the mesh as required to set the plant at its sufficient depth. During the winter season when the plant is now established, dig out the guarding mesh to allow the plant’s roots to grow normally.
6. Trap and release the gophers
It is also possible hard to trap and release gophers, although it is difficult. A cage trap is placed in the gopher’s burrow.
The trap shuts down behind any gopher entering it to eat the bait, but the trap and the gopher can be transferred to another location for human departure.
But before this one should know the laws of their land regarding this. Many Canadian jurisdictions ordered homeowners to kill gophers grabbed in any type of trap rather than sending them out on the crown residence or someone else’s personal property.
It is very important to use the correct size of a trap to catch gophers.
7. Flood the gophers out
A simple way to get rid of the grown-up gophers is to flood their tunnels. The increasing water causes gophers to leave their tunnels and it also gives the opportunity to track for more burrows made by them. This similar flooding way can kick out snakes, raccoons, and skunks.
8. Smoke the gophers out
A smoke bomb can also be used to get rid of the grown-up gophers, this also the gives the opportunity to mark the spots from where the gophers enter.
The smoke will disturb the gophers but won’t kill them. Poison fumigants can kill gophers in their burrows, but a special authorization is required to use them.
Using a gopher trap may look like a difficult task but it is better than killing the gopher by using different poisons or chemicals, which also have a long term effect and it, would be preferable to avoid using poison. So buying a gopher trap is a better choice where you don’t have to kill the Gophers. Make the best choice and make your home gopher free!