24 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Gophers

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Home Remedies to Get Rid of Gophers
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Pocket gophers, commonly referred to as gophers, are rodents that are widespread across Central and North America. They are known for their extensive tunneling and, like moles and groundhogs will quickly destroy a beautiful lawn. However, they are more like rabbits when it comes to appetite and will eat every almost plant root in your yard or garden, leaving nothing but a trail of destruction. Want to know how to get rid of gophers? Then don’t worry. There are several home remedies to get rid of gophers in your garden and protect keep your plants from these pests for good. Check out our gopher repellents.

home remedies to get rid of gophers

How to get rid of Gophers

1. Soft Candy or Chewing Gum

chewing gumUse of gum or various other soft candies is certainly one of the more popular home remedies to get rid of gophers. (1, 2).

The gum is not poisonous to gophers but it is thought that chewing gum gets stuck in their intestines. From a blocked gut, they eventually die in their burrows. There is however little evidence, except anecdotal, that it works.

But according to Rex Marsh, vertebrate pest control specialist at UC Davis, when he used this remedy on gophers in captivity, most of the gophers only developed a sweet tooth (3).

2. Noise

noiseNoise can frighten gophers as any other wild animal. It works, at least temporarily, as a gopher repellent. Playing music with heavy beats has been known to deter these animals.

This remedy is meant for the areas where gophers are only an occasional problem, not a permanent threat (4).

3. Pet Waste

pet dogIf you want to know how to get rid of gophers without killing them, then your best strategy is to use noxious smells. Dog poop and cat poop work a treat as a gopher repellent.

Rather than throwing away your dog’s poop or cat’s litter into the waste, use it to block gopher tunnels and mounds.

Gophers will instinctively avoid an area where they smell predators.

4. Gopher Repellent Plants

plantGophers are known to eat anything – well almost anything.

So what can you plant to keep gophers away?

Euphorbia lathyris, which is popularly known as “Gopher Spurge”, is said to control subterranean burrowers such as gophers.

It is a natural gopher repellent plant. If you want to know how to keep gophers out of garden, then one strategy is to plant gopher repellent plants on your garden perimeter.

These gopher deterrent plants are easily available in almost all nurseries. Grow these plant all through your yard, particularly in areas where gophers are found.

Or else, you can plant daffodil, castor bean or marigold as gophers cannot bear the smell and taste of these plants (5, 6).

Note: There is no valid proof regarding the use of this remedy (7).

5. Portable Radio

radioThis gopher repellent may sound strange to a number of people, but it does help in getting rid of these pests.

Take a battery powered portable radio and put it in a Ziploc bag to safeguard it from moisture. Turn on the radio, keeping the volume low, and place it in those areas where gophers frequent.

Gophers will leave the area in a couple of days. If you find them coming back, then use the radio again.

This method is temporary and it is meant for the areas where gopher problems are not long-term (8).

6. Poisons

poisonIf you want to know how to kill a gopher, then poison is the most effective remedy.

If you have pets or children, then be very cautious while using these methods.

You can find a wide variety of poisons that are great for gopher control. Zinc phosphide and strychnine are two such poisons that are used to kill gophers (10).

Strychnine is delivered by mixing it with grain. Open a hole into a gopher tunnel using the end of a broom or shovel. Pour the strychnine-laced grain into the tunnel.

It is also done mechanically in heavily infested areas. The mechanical bait applicator creates an artificial burrow and places small quantities of strychnine bait every three feet down.

Gophers discover this new burrow and eat the bait as they are fiercely territorial (11, 12).

Another poison that can be used to kill gophers is an anticoagulant bait called diphacinone. A solid block of grain and wax is used as gopher bait and to this, diphacinone is added.

The homemade gopher poison then should be placed into a gopher tunnel.

According to a research in Sonoma Country, this method killed 70% to 80% of the gophers after three to nine months of treatment  (13, 14).

You can also make a bait using 4 quarts of vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, sugar beets or parsnips are good), 1/8 oz. strychnine and 1/80 oz. saccharine.

The vegetables should be washed and drained. Cut them about 1 inch long and 1/2 inch square. Mix the saccharine and strychnine in a mortar or dish and make sure the mixture is dry. Pour this mixture on damp vegetables (15).

7. Rotting fish

fishGophers detest strong smells. The smell of pungent, rotting fish is a popular home remedy to get rid of gophers. These animals detest the smell.

So, whenever you go for fishing next or have some leftover fish scraps, then simply place the scraps inside or near the gopher tunnel(s).

8. Castor Oil Repellent

castor oilReadily available castor oil is a very popular remedy to repel gophers (16). Its usage is scientifically proved in the Eastern United States.

It gives the gophers diarrhea when eaten and they will leave your property in search of a new habitat.

To prepare this gopher repellent, blend 1/4 cup of unrefined castor oil and  2 tablespoons of a dishwashing liquid. Now dilute this mixture with water: 2 tablespoons of the solution to 1 gallon of water.

Spray this mixture on the gopher affected area (17, 18).

You can also plant castor oil plants to get rid of gophers from your lawn and garden (19).

9. Burrow Detonators and Blasters

burrow detonatorBurrow blasters/detonators or Gas explosive devices are often used to kill gophers. Not really a home remedy, more total war.

These burrow blasters use a mixture of oxygen and propane to eliminate pests in their burrows.

This technique causes a pulmonary hemorrhage in the gophers and kills them (20, 21).

Propane gas is also used in various devices to control these pests: some of these devices are meant to kill them, while others are designed to produce loud noises to scare the gophers away (22).

These methods are obviously dangerous, so be cautious while using them (23).

10. Coffee Grounds

coffeeIf you are a coffee addict, then this remedy is just for you. Gophers and coffee grounds do not mix. They detest strong smells and coffee is one such smell.

Sprinkle the used coffee grounds in the gopher openings. Also, spread some grounds all around the garden area.  Now, cover the holes with soil.

Evidence for this remedy is weak. One frustrated gardener used 500 pounds (!) of coffee grounds in a small area.

He did notice that there was a gradual decrease in the gopher population but this remedy also resulted in nitrogen depletion of the soil (24).

11. Gopher Baskets

gopher basketUse a gopher basket to plant vegetables and other plants you want to protect. These baskets are made up of chicken wire that protects the young roots until they are established.

You can either purchase these baskets from farm supply centers or nurseries or they can also be made at home.

Use a double layer of 1-inch mesh chicken wire. This is used for shrubs and trees that require safeguarding only while young. Leave enough space to allow root development.

For plants that need long-term protection, baskets made from ½-inch mesh hardware cloth can be used.

Larger areas can be protected by an underground gopher fence. But this is a temporary solution as gopher are capable of digging deeper than 24 inches.

To protect above-ground parts of small plants, one-gallon plant containers or plastic tubes can be used (25, 26).

12. Dryer Sheets

dryer sheetDryer sheets are used to make laundry soft and pleasant smelling.

These sheets can also be used as a gopher repellent. Gophers detest the smell of the strong scents that are present in dryer sheets.

This is an inexpensive way to solve the gopher problem. Simply place a few dryer sheets into the gopher holes and cover them with soil.

13. Gas or Vehicles Exhaust

exhaustThe exhaust of your vehicle contains carbon monoxide that is harmful to gophers. It is a very simple and effective home remedy to get rid of gophers. Simply use your vehicle’s exhaust fumes to flood the gopher tunnels with noxious gases.

Connect a pipe to the engine exhaust and place it in the tunnel. Pack soil around the pipe and flood the whole tunnel network for 3 minutes.

This method even has its own name it is so good: Pressurized Exhaust Rodent Control (PERC) (27).

Burrow fumigants like aluminum phosphide and ignitable gas cartridges can also be used to get rid of pocket gophers. The fumigants should not be used above land as they are only meant to be used in gopher tunnels.

14. Vibrating Stakes

vibrating stakeUse of vibrating stakes frightens both moles and gophers. Some stakes are driven into the ground and remain invisible from the surface. They vibrate from battery power, frightening gophers away

Other types of stake are wind-powered and have small windmills attached on the surface, causing constant vibration.

However, we doubt these methods are effective. Gophers don’t get frightened easily. This is because of their regular exposure to noise and vibrations from powered equipment, vehicles, and people moving about (29, 30).

15. Flooding

waterIf you want to know how to get rid of gophers humanely, then try flooding.

Pour 5-gallon buckets of water in a gopher tunnel or you can also simply use a hose. It will not necessarily kill the pests, but it will force them to leave their burrows (31).

16. Peppermint oil

peppermint oilPeppermint is another natural gopher repellent with a strong scent. They will not eat a plant that has been sprayed with peppermint oil.

Add some oil to a cup of pure alcohol to dissolve the oil. Add this mixture to a spray bottle and dilute with water. Spray fresh mounds, areas of infestation and surrounding vegetation.

The peppermint oil also acts as an insecticide, further protecting your plants from attack

17. Mothballs

mothball Using mothballs is another way to keep the gophers away from your garden. Empty several mothballs into the gopher opening, and cover the entrance with plastic to keep the smell of the balls in place.

As soon as they smell the naphthalene (moth balls) they will leave the yard (35).

This is a temporary solution but it is useful for areas where there is a smaller gopher population (36).

18. Traps

trapTraps are agreat way to get rid of gophers humanely.

Place gopher traps in the tunnels or passageways of an active gopher mound. Excavate into the heap or mound, and put the trap diagonally into the tunnel.

Wrap up the area with the help of a black plastic sheet or burlap in such a way that no light reaches into the hole. As soon as you trap them, release them in a distant location from where they can’t come back.

Various gopher traps are available at farm supply stores. The Macabee type trap is one such trap to be used in the main tunnel, near fresh mound activity (38).

19. Tabasco Sauce

pepper sauceMix 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, ½ cup castor oil and a few drops of peppermint oil in 1 cup of water.

Shake well. Immerse cotton balls in this solution and put them into the gopher holes. It will keep the gophers away from your garden.

20. Exclusion

fenceIf you want to know how to keep gophers out of garden, then this is really the only foolproof method. Fencing is expensive but effective to keep pocket gopher away.

Dig a trench along your fence and bury Galvanized metal hardware cloth along the fence perimeter. Fill the trench when the cloth is in place (39).

21. Jalapeno peppers

chilli pepperAnother effective remedy to get rid of gophers is is placing jalapeno peppers in the tunnels.

Spray the mounds and surrounding plants with pepper spray.  (40).

22. Predators

owlA nesting barn owl pair is can eat up to 500 gophers a year. Predators are the easiest way to control gophers.

Make your yard a friendly spot for owls to roost.

23. Wormwood Tea

wormwoodWormwood is another gopher repellent plant you can try to prevent a gopher infestation.

All you need is ½ pound of Artemesia leaves and 6 pints of water. Chop the leaves and bring them to boil in 2 pints of water.

After boiling, simmer the solution for 1/2 an hour, keeping the water level topped up.

Then, strain the solution and add 1 quart of fresh water. Now you can spray this liquid on the underside of foliage.

Use the solution immediately after preparation.

24. Garlic and red chili powder

garlic and chillyThis strong smelling powder is the simplest way to get rid of gophers.

Make this garlic fire spray using 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2-3 garlic bulbs, 12 hot chilli peppers, 3 squirts liquid detergent and 7 cups of water.

Blend all the ingredients, strain through a muslin cloth and fill a spray bottle. Spraying this mixture in garden and lawns will repel gophers (41).

how to get rid of gophersDo’s

  • Keep a pet at home to scare them away.
  • Be able to tell the difference between a molehill and a gopher hill. Gopher hills have plugs blocking the entrance while molehills are a symmetrical hill of earth. The home remedies to get rid of moles and gophers are very similar.
  • Wear gloves while using the above remedies that involve building a trap, repellent etc.
  • The tunnel networks of gophers are wide and interconnected as they are rodents and reproduce rapidly. Infested areas are generally more prone to re-infestation since the new gophers always like to use those old tunnel networks. So, keep an eye on fresh gopher holes and quickly make a move to drive them off (42).

Don’ts

  • Avoid touching poisonous things that you are using on gophers. Wear gloves.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Gophers have voracious appetites and can steal a favorite vegetable or decorative plant while you watch. The networks of tunnels that gophers and moles dig can undermine your garden or lawn. Of the various eradication methods used, some are dangerous, some cruel and some simply ineffective. Perhaps the best gopher deterrent is to line your plant boxes with gopher wire so the pesky scavengers can’t get to your plants, but that won’t save the unprotected parts of your garden. A combination of methods may convince the gophers and moles to leave, but you may have to get tough.

  2. Okay I read about all the different methods to bring about the demise of our enemies. I took a different approach as if the gopher smells or senses a danger they backfill the tunnel to protect themselves. I used 2 liters of Liquid Nitrogen. The bold rodent was up and eating the seeds for the birds off the ground during the day (3pm). I took my Dewar’s flask out and then poured the nitrogen down the tunnel. It started to off gas immediately, very violently. I covered the tunnel and watched the gas escape around the yard thru his or hers vents. As our atmosphere is 78 percent nitrogen the rodent sensed no threat. The O2 was depleted thus asphyxiating said rodent. 2 weeks now with no new tunnels. Yea, victory!!

  3. I’m hoping not to harm the gopher and just trap and relocate him. I just purchased one of those ultrasonic repellents that go into the ground. Hoping to scare him off. Any other suggestions? Thank you in advance

  4. I like that you pointed out that noise can get rid of gophers. My father’s cabin has a lot of them. I wonder if putting in a windmill will be enough noise to keep it away from his home.

  5. I used the vibrating stakes, noise stakes, etc. The gophers burrowed right up next to them. Watering the holes is effective, but very expensive in the southwest where all water comes from the Colorado River.

  6. Another underused method is biocontrol. Which relies on natural predators. Some of these include gopher snakes and owls. Gopher snakes love piles of rocks. Try investing in a suitable habitat for them. And they will naturally ward off any gopher problems.

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