How to get rid of Gophers

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Bongo Jim
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How to get rid of Gophers

On the left is a real gopher, on the right is a Hollywood gopher. Draw your own conclusions as to the "magic" of Hollywood.

The real gopher is a voracious eater that will decimate a garden or orchard. They just wanna eat your tasty food (or the roots of) before you do. There are several ways to get rid of gophers, the following is my way - The Burrito of DOOM. Disclaimer: this is to kill the gophers in your garden/orchard, use at your own risk.

Once you've been invaded, you have to act fast. Ignoring gophers will result in the loss of food, your food - the stuff that's supposed to keep you alive during & after the collapse.

When you see a mound, dig it up to find the tunnel(s).

Put a stick or something down the tunnel(s) to see how far it goes. Sometimes they stop relatively quickly or take a 90 degree turn, if you hit something,  dig a little more and see. Do not use the B.O.D.  next to/inside your garden - dig as far back as possible away from your food. This is to keep your food from being contaminated. You may have to remove some of your growing food, this is an unfortunate necessity - believe me, if you don't the gopher will. Don't bother trying to put a water hose down the hole to flood them out.  You'll waste hundreds of gallons of water and won't even get them wet. They've planned for that, smart little buggers. C-4...if you actually have it, and want to waste some on a gopher, that's up to you, but don't call me when the black SUVs roll up.

It's time to make a burrito (or two) of doom. First, get some paper.  I use (waste) copy paper that's already been printed on. It gives the gophers something to read while they dine. Put a paper towel under the copy paper as the peanut oil will soak through the copy paper. Next, get some peanut butter and put it on the copy paper in strips. It doesn't matter what kind of PB, the cheaper the better. They really like PB and their sense of smell brings them to the B.O.D.  But if not, gophers usually make the rounds of their tunnel system every 24 hours or so, eventually they will run into it.


Next up, pellets of death.

These pellets, after eaten,  make the rodents bleed out internally. They'll do it to anything else too, so make sure you store it out of reach of your pet, and pick up any dropped pellets. Put the pellets generously on the peanut butter. Use gloves of some sort so it's not absorbed through your skin. Do not breathe the dust. Remember this stuff is meant to kill things. This pail of pellets was $16 at Lowes.

Wash your hands immediately after this step if you don't use gloves.

Then cut into strips and roll up. In the above picture, I roll from bottom to the top.

DO NOT EAT IT! It is NOT for human consumption.

Take the Burrito(s) of doom out to the gopher hole(s), and insert into hole(s).

Take the stick (or whatever) you used before and shove that B.O.D. as far into the hole as you can.

Fill in the entire hole, tamp it down, repeat until ground is fairly level and dirt is evenly distributed.

If more mounds pop up, repeat as many times as it takes.

If the gopher comes out and croaks above ground, get it buried/disposed of quickly so your pet or other wildlife doesn't eat it. The dead gopher can kill other animal life if eaten. Don't use the B.O.D. in a pet area where pets can dig it up and possibly eat it.  In other words, take care where and how you use the Burrito of DOOM.

Caradoc
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Getting rid of gophers

Bongo Jim:

I hate gophers and have no doubt your B.O.D. will take care of them.  An easier route which seems to work for me is to kick away any loose dirt to expose the hole and insert a stick of Juicy Fruit gum.  You have to catch it early or the gum just lies there and dries out.  But if the gum disappears the gopher activity stops.  No idea why. Maybe it clogs their little intestines?

Unfortunately, if you're putting a rare or valuable plant into the ground, there's no such thing as noticing gopher activity early enough.  That's why every raised bed has 1/2" mesh galvanized hardware cloth underneath and the planting hole for each tree or vine gets a hardware cloth "basket" that extends 2 1/2 or 3" above ground level.  Yeah, maybe not the most attractive thing to enhance looks of your garden, but if the hardware cloth only protrudes an inch or two the rodents will just hop over it and begin dining on the roots of your favorite new plant.

Down with gophers!

Caradoc

Dr Jerome
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fruit trees

I am planning to plant a small orchard in a lot where there are gophers. I will most definitely try out the burritos of doom, but I am wondering if lining the hole I dig for the saplings with wire mesh willkeep the buggers out (probably) but then cause me problem later as the tree tries to grow and runs into this galvanized wire.

Thank you for this forum. We have been fighting gophers on this land for several years with no appreciable progress. Grandma and her rifle and vermin poisons have been ineffective.

The Burritos of Doom will be put to the test! 

(not my mother in law, or her gun...I just love the pic)

Bongo Jim
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Hard to kill

I've tried numerous things, gum included, but nothing worked until the B.O.D. No offense Caradoc, maybe I didn't use the flavor they liked. But yes, I believe that gum does plug 'em up.  I think people should try gum first and see if it works for them. It's cheaper and less dangerous to other animals (I think).

After the gophers got a couple of berry bushes, I started doing the wire mesh "basket" with whatever I plant. This seems to work, but I have had gophers go completely around the outside of the mesh eating anything that grew through. I only found out when I watered and all the dirt collapsed around the bush (it was still alive, luckily). As far as problems with a tree, I guess it would depend how far the wire is from the root ball. Eventually the roots will grow through. Will they be harmed? I dunno.

My problem now is periodic. The photos above are from yesterday, and the last one before that was maybe a month ago. But if I had a real bad problem, I would definitely use this, at least to start with...

Mr. Fix
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I would just love to comment on this thread,

  but the Environmental Protection Agency, PETA, and the Humane Society, would all conspired to lock me up for life.

Therefore, I must keep to myself, how I kill gophers.

As one side note,

I no longer have a gopher problem.

Good thread, I enjoyed the read.yes

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Bongo Jim
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@Mr Fix

So you're the guy with the C-4.

Katie Rose
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Help!

Bongo Jim,

We are in a battle for our orchard. So far the gophers are winning. We are in our fourth year and easily half the orchard trees have been killed, replaced, killed, and replaced again.

They seem to be especially fond of our hazel nut trees. I believe we have planted over 16 trees, and do not have a viable one. We want an entire row of these fabulous nut trees. Disaster is too a kind a word for our experience so far.

When we did dug down into the mounds, we were never able to find a definitive tunnel. All we find is loose dirt. We have NEVER once found a tunnel.

How far down did you dig to find the tunnel? How far out from the mound do you dig?

Serious question.

Help!

Bongo Jim
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Dig

Gophers are smart.  They have to be to fool predators. Sometimes they dig a couple of "false" holes that only go down a few inches, near the real entrance to their tunnels. They also plug the tunnels up behind them so well that it is very hard to tell where the tunnel is.  Many times I'd dig down and have lost the trail. Sometimes you have to dig no so much deep, as wide.  They plug up that entrance from inside the tunnel and make another one somewhere further away, and the plug can be fairly large, as much as a foot - sometimes more.  In the "gopher mound" picture, just below the "phe" is the entrance hole. That's where I first dug and found the tunnel. The tunnel wasn't straight down, but towards the bottom of the picture about 5-6 inches below the surface to the top of the tunnel.

I too am trying to grow some hazel nuts. I have put the wire mesh "baskets" as noted above in the hole before planting. So far so good.

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Other items in the arsenal...

The Bait Applicator

This is my back up if I have difficulty locating  the tunnel.  It's o.k., not as good as the B.O.D. Basically the pellets are loaded in the box at the top, you go around poking the ground until you get the "elevator drop."  When you get that, you use the small black lever/handle on top to open the little door at the bottom near the tip, letting out the pellets of death into the tunnel. Like the B.O.D., don't scrimp on the pellets. Takes a little while to become proficient at finding the tunnels, but when you do, you know it, and it gets easier from there.  Down side: I have had the experience of finding the pellets pushed out of the tunnel by the gopher. Cost: $20

The Poison Cafe

This is hit and miss, but as an upside it also works on squirrels, mice/rats and small varmits. The poison cafe is a little diner for your furry friends. Except this place serves pellets of death with peanut butter on the side. You unscrew that round part on top, spread some peanut butter around the insides, pour in the pellets and screw the top back on. I usually take a little peanut butter and put it on the inside of the round  intake ports on each side. For gophers, you have to put these right next to a tunnel opening and hope the gopher comes up for fresh air.  Not too good. Another problem with this is, the dead whatever is usually hanging around topside somewhere for other animals to eat that you don't want killed. I only use this at the farthest point from the house/yard and not next to any neighbors with pets (and lately only for that bastard squirrel that was chewing up my Goji berry plants - it did work on him). Cost: $20

Caradoc
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thoughts, questions

Yes, gophers seem to be attracted to hazelnut, both the bushy hazelnut/ filbert and the more tree-like Turkish variety.  Here in California's low desert, it seems the only thing more attractive to them is a baby avocado tree.

Dragonfruit have been planted for a year and haven't seen even a trace of gopher activity around the perimeter of those planting baskets.  Maybe the gophers are attracted by the daily watering necessary for avocados and tend not to notice the cactus-like dragonfruit which get a lot less water?

Accidental discovery about gogi berries....  The ones basket-planted in the ground for three years have grown but not blossomed or fruited.  Two newer ones I didn't get around to planting for summer of 2011. Just left them in their plastic nursery pots in semi-shaded area near edge of lawn so they get a little water from sprinklers. Didn't get them planted for summer of 2012 either and both plants blossomed profusely and produced fruit for four months or so.  My hunch is that blossoming/fruiting begins later for an in-ground plant while -- like a Christmas cactus -- a potted gogi blossoms as soon as pot gets a bit crowded with roots.  In any event, much better fresh than the sugarcoated dried ones available commercially. Maybe you beat gophers here just by growing in pots.

We're probably moving to Florida this year.  Any word on the gopher situation there?

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On goji and dragonfruit

The one dragonfruit I have in the ground (the other 15 are in plastic pots) doesn't have the mesh basket and had a gopher checking it out early on, but didn't hurt it enough to kill it. Maybe the roots are bitter or taste bad to the gophers. I've had a couple of blooms and a couple fruit from the potted ones, but I didn't get the fruit before they went south. 

Only one of the goji bushes has been bothered by gophers, they are all basketed,  and they have only been in the ground a year. I've only got one single berry off of ten plants in the ground. The two I have in plastic pots haven't done anything either.  The thing that attacks them are the stinking bunnies. I've had bunnies jump out of the above ground mesh cage when I walk up to water.  The only good thing is that I take the stems that the bunnies have chewed off and put them in a pot with dirt and they usually grow so I have more plants later. This has also worked with the dragon fruit. My dogs run by and knock off a piece so I throw it in a pot with some dirt and a month later the thing has shoots growing out of the sides.

The hazel nuts I'm trying are the bush variety and have only been in the ground since the summer so they are a ways off.

The avocado trees have been hit hard by the gophers. None were "basketed." Out of three (2 Haas, one Bacon) I lost one Haas early on. The other Haas was about 5 and had just started producing when it was  hit recently. It is hanging on, but just barely. I couldn't find the gopher tunnel opening, so I used the bait applicator on that one. A  couple days later I happened to be up looking at the tree when the gopher  stumbled out of a new hole. It was wobbly and dazed, obviously on its way out, so I helped it by kicking it halfway across the yard...twice.

Gophers in Florida? Don't the gators take care of them?

Bongo Jim
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For KR

I just came in from finding a new opponent. There were three holes fairly close together and they were all back filled. There was no "mound."  I dug them up, but no tunnel. I went wide, still nothing. I then stepped back a couple of feet, and the ground felt a little squishy. It's been raining here the last couple of days, so I kinda wrote it off to that. But since I had the shovel, I decided to dig a little. Yep, there was the tunnel. So, they sometimes fool even seasoned non-professionals - like me. My advice is to get the bait applicator (above) or a piece of rebar and do some poking around, exploring near the holes you're finding.  Maybe then you'll be able to find the tunnels and deploy a B.O.D. or two.

If you go the rebar route ( cheaper than the B.A.), get a four foot length of the thicker variety and bend one end (about a foot long) at a 90 degree angle so it looks like an "L" or close to it - maybe a flat "J". Use that foot as a handle so you don't get impaled when you find a tunnel. Home Despot has pre cut lengths in the masonry area (they might bend it there for a fee).

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Invasion!

O.k., so maybe it's just the gopher from yesterday that didn't go for the gum. Yes, I tried  gum on yesterdays dig( it was starting to rain and no time for a B.O.D.). Maybe it didn't have time to take effect yet, who knows. What I do know is that today about ten feet away  from the last holes was a fairly good sized mound that wasn't there yesterday. The two liter soda bottles are there for scale. I'm hoping this will give Katie Rose some idea of how wide one has to dig to find the tunnel. The next shot is the first shovel full dug out of the center. I didn't see any back filled opening so I started in the center. The following shots are at various distances  and depths from that first shovel full. The bottles were not moved.

Here I first see a little hole just above the red bottle cap. The bottom of the bottom bottle did move just a little. The next picture, I dug back even further to see where the tunnel went.

The yellow arrows show the openings of the tunnel. The blue line is about where I first saw a hole. The shovel is about in the center of the main hole. Burritos of Doom were deployed this time.

ltcolkilgore
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Kinda late to the party...

Great forum Bongo Jim...

Around here we have thirteen lined ground squirrels... although I think they are common throughout the 48 states.

After persistent whining from my children about killing these little critters (and the fact that Officer Friendly stopped by after he witnessed me take one out with a BB gun) I bought a live trap (about $25 at a hardware store) on the recommendation of my brother-in-law. I use peanut butter on the bait pan trigger, sometimes just a few peanuts will work as well. Must keep the bait away from the sides as they will just stick their arms through and steal it. I drop them off at the nature preserve down the road from me in hopes that some bleeding heart PETA member will severely twist their ankle in one of their holes while walking their dog. Between my property and my Mother's property I caught over 50 last year. My Mother's property is overrun and I just bring the trap with me every time I visit. If you take one with you in the car just remember to put something under it so they won't be leaving a mess behind... yuck.

http://www.havahart.com/store/live-animal-traps/b1025

The only bait I have ever tried was Sweeney's Poison Peanuts - would work for the burrito as well I think.

It worked well at my Mother's property by just pouring a few pellets into the holes... she figured we cut the population in half but trying it a few weeks later proved ineffective. My Mother reckons that they saw all of their little friends laying dead with poison peanuts hanging out of their mouths??? Maybe... but they are very clever critters. If I can't make some headway at my Mother's this summer I will give the burrito a try, thanks!!yes

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Bongo Jim
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Squirrels

ltcolkilgore: A couple of poison cafes might also be effective on them. I don't know if they are territorial, like gophers, but taking them down the road might not be far enough. They will come back to "their" home. It's funny, moving gophers in CA is illegal, but killing them is a.o.k. I've seen the peanut cone in the store, it's good to know they work, at least at first. Maybe it just needs a little tweeking. Perhaps a little peanut butter added around the tip after the initial kill off will get a second wave of fatalities. But if you are being overrun, maybe it's time to start with "The Rodenator."

UraniumSprings
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gopher machine

has anyone tried one of these? 

http://catlinmfg.com/

(I know, kind of a nuclear option in comparison to the B.O.D. but I already have access to a tractor and plan to plant a lot of trees).

Bongo Jim
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Re:Gopher Machine

What happens after you've planted your trees and gophers invade? It'll be kinda hard to tow that thing around your trees won't it? It might work the first time, before you plant, but you are putting down "poison," (that site calls it that) will that poison eventually biodegrade and not affect your trees? I've had five year old trees get killed by the little bastards when they came to the property in the dark of night. One shot at the beginning isn't going to cut it. Which reminds me, if you have some owls in your area, you might want to try an owl box up high instead of the B.O.D. Owls have to eat too.

Bongo Jim
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Gopher Cages

This is an excellent page on how to make gopher "cages" that  you put in before planting...

http://tastylandscape.com/2013/06/09/how-to-build-a-gopher-cage/

Ruffian
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My fail proof method

My fail proof method for dealing with gophers, raccoons or any medium size pest is a tandem team of old Irish red Pitt bulls. They work best in pairs and they never fail to get any interloper on their territory. Also old Irish reds have the best temperaments with humans.

Hunting dogs can locate them. But these critters are deceptively strong. Raccoons will kill or drown an ordinary hunting dog. Pitt bulls have the strength to kill them even in water. Gophers will even attack horses legs when they near their holes. Snakes are good at killing young but most people kinda flip out over them. And very few species can take on an adult.

Smaller rodents...... Jack Russell terriers. Lions in a mouses body. I can't tell you the last time I saw even a rabbit near by.

I like fox because they keep the skunks away.

Bongo Jim
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Castor Oil Granules

This looks to be one way to get rid of gophers without the worry of poisoning your pets.

https://shine.yahoo.com/at-home/rid-gophers-moles-203900401.html

Bongo Jim
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Above link is no good

But, here is a link to the same exact story...

http://www.hgtv.com/landscaping/no-more-gophers-or-moles/index.html

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