Dealing With Garden Gophers

In your garden, gophers are destructive pest that can wreck havoc on your plants and trees. Gophers dig all year round, but they are most active during the spring and fall. Gophers dig burrows and push soil to the surface, leaving mounds, usually fan-shaped. The two best methods that reduce garden gopher populations are traps and poisons.

Gopher Traps

Gopher traps are most effective when they are placed in pairs at opposite directions in tunnels. Make sure you place traps within each tunnel, as this is the only way to intercept gophers from multiple directions.

After setting the traps, it is important to exclude light and air currents by covering the tunnel openings with grass clods, cardboard or some other material.

Each gopher trap should be tied to a stake to allow safe removal. If the traps fail to catch a gopher, check for new holes and place additional traps in them.

After removing any trapped gophers, leave a few traps in the tunnels for a couple of weeks in case there are still gophers active in your garden or yard.

Gopher Poisons

There are two types of poisons available on the market. The first is strychnine, which is very potent and lasts a long time. Take extra precautions to ensure that children and pets are not exposed to strychnine. This poison accidentally kills pets every year, so it is not recommended. Only use it as a last resort if other methods fail.

A better option is a zinc phosphide poison. This chemical causes a toxic gas to be produced in the digestive tracts of gophers. The gas is deadly to them, but does not leave toxicity that will threaten a pet caused by secondary poisoning. A pet might get indigestion, but its health will not be threatened in the same way if exposed to strychnine.

Some people consider using mouse or rat bait to kill gophers. Keep in mind that poisons should only be used according to their manufacturer's instructions. If the rat poison does not give instructions for gopher usage, then the manufacturer may not have tested it on gophers to see it it would be effective. Gophers may not eat it or ingest enough rat poison to kill them.

Poison Safety Tips

Read and follow the poison directions carefully. Be cautious of pets, especially dogs because they are curious and they will dig the poison up. Be sure to keep your pets confined and out of site while you apply the bait.

If you find a dead rodent, immediately dispose of it in a safe manner. Never store leftover poisons unless they can be locked up and secured in a safe place.

While gopher poisons may have a minimal impact on your garden, use them in relatively small amounts. They are not recommended for use in small gardens unless it is a last resort. Use traps first, and if they prove ineffective, consider gopher poisons.