Nothing can be more intimidating than rodents, especially if they invade your home or backyard. Unlike rats, which may create a home inside your home, pocket gophers are more of outdoor rodents. They like to live in singles and can make homes in gardens and lawns, and can be quite destructive to your landscaping.
In California, pocket gophers are common, with about five different species widespread in the region. When they invade your compound, they will create burrows into the ground, pushing mounds of dirt up onto the surface. If you site small hips of fresh soil in your backyard, there’s a big chance that you have one or several gophers. They often feed on various plants within the lawn or yard, including vines, trees, shrubs, garden crops, and ornamental plants. It is only practical to eliminate these pests if at all you want to maintain a beautiful look in your yard. With this having been said, here are a few tips on how to get rid of pocket gophers in California.
1. Professional Pest Service
Especially around the spring and summer months, pocket gophers can be quite problematic. They can turn your once beautiful yard or lawn into an unsightly scene as they dig tunnels and cause damage. The folks at Smith’s Pest Management, San Jose, CA, say that while these pesky rodents are more likely to wreak havoc in summer and spring, they are active all the year-round. Most importantly, they are very dodgy, and eliminating them on your own can be an uphill task.
This is why homeowners and businesses are advised to seek professional pest control services when seeking to eliminate California gophers. Some common methods used by professional pest control services may include fumigation, baiting, and a wide range of other expert approaches.
2. Toxicant Baiting
Poisoned bait is an effective method of killing these pests that damage the plants we have tirelessly sown. One way to get rid of these garden pests using toxic baiting is by dusting strychnine sulfate on root vegetables like carrots and potatoes and placing them where the pests will find them. Cut them into small sizes so the rodent can easily bite, chew, and swallow. Ideally, you can have grain baits such as maize, wheat, sorghum, and many more where you have them dusted with the strychnine.
Locate a mound on the ground, and then dig into the ground. Rotate the probe so that the hole can be a bit bigger for the bait to get in comfortably. Cover the opening with grass, and then top it up with soil. Ensure that the “serving” is entirely in the tunnel so the rodent will be tempted to take a bite.
However, you should note that leaving the poisoned bait carelessly on the ground could endanger the life of the other animals in your homestead.
Sometimes, the intentions of getting hold of a pocket gopher are not to kill it. Sometimes they are needed for scientific experiments in the laboratory. In this case, trapping becomes more practical. There are various ways to use trapping to catch these fossorial mammals. Some common kinds of traps for gophers include:
- Kill Traps: They kill by striking and puncturing the animal’s body. These traps are readily available at most hardware shops or farm supplies stores.
- Live Traps: These mammals are sometimes also used for research purposes. This means that to catch them, you will need a trap that won’t kill the rodent. For example, one comes in a cylindrical plastic tube with one closed end and one open end with some sort of swinging door. The design ensures that once the rodent is trapped, it cannot come out.
- Pocket Gopher Traps: This involves excavating burrows, putting traps in place, marking the locations, and keeping an eye on the mines to see if there are any Pocket Gophers. If the mission is successful, you repeat the same procedure at a different place.
For starters, these rodents are warm-blooded and live on land. This means that if you flood the burrows with water, pocket gophers will be forced to come out if not drown. This method works best for crop gardens that have been invaded by gophers.
You could consider doing crop rotation in the next season and switching to plants that do well with flood irrigation. When their tunnel systems start flooding, it will only take one or two days before the pesky pests are driven out. Once the mammal is forced out of its residence in your garden, you can use a physical object such as a shovel to kill it or use a dog to hunt them down.
Planting buffer strips of grains at the field will provide an unstable environment for the mammal to make rounds. Their mobility will also be triggered, and they could easily get trapped. If you settle for this method, identify areas on higher grounds because that will be their rescue centre when they run away from the waters.
5. Revenge Smoke Bombs
They are useful for all the rodents that live underground, e.g., woodchucks, moles, Norway rats. The revenge smoke bombs are cartilage-like pieces put in the rodent’s barrows, and once they have been activated, they emit a thick, dense, and toxic smoke in there. At this time, all the rodent’s exit points have been closed, making it easy for them to suffocate. You can fix the cartilage according to the size of the mammals. One cartilage is enough for the smaller rodents, and two or more is best for the larger ones per barrow.
However, it would be best if you were cautious about following instructions to avoid any damages that are outside the intended purpose. Remember, your main aim is to control gopher damage without causing more. It is a possible fire hazard. Please do not attempt to use it indoors. It may have negative effects on humans and animals. While at it, make sure that this method is down away from the children’s vicinity. It is a health hazard as well as an environmental hazard. Proper measures should be considered when handling all the methods used to clear any pests and parasites, whether indoors or outdoors.
6. Garden Mesh
While this is far from the easier method you can use to get rid of gophers, you could always resort to using Gopher mesh, not only at the garden edges themselves, but also under the lawn or other decorative landscaping features such as patios, decking and even the garden pond.
7. Artificial Turf
OK, so artificial grass is never the best looking option, but that doesn’t mean you have to cover your whole garden in the stuff. You can always place some around the edges just to scare the gopher off, but sadly this will only work if it is used as prevention from them, instead of offence to removing them.
You might think gophers have no problems with any plants, but there are things you can plant, especially around the edges of your garden that will put them off visiting your more valued plants and flowers. Plants like lavender or rosemary are perfect for doing just that and don’t look too bad in a well-landscaped garden.
9. Cotton Balls
You can use various things on those cotton balls to get rid of gophers. While most people use something like peppermint oil, you can use anything strong-smelling including smelling salts or even a simple nasal congestion spray!
10. Fabric Sheets
And last but not least we end with a crazy one. Apparently, gophers hate the smell of tumble-dryer sheets and a lot of people have reportedly got rid of whole gopher families simply by poking fragrant sheets into the holes they come out of. This might sound like a daft idea, but apparently, it is a commonly used tip!
Californian gophers can be a real bummer, especially in spring and the warmer months. However, keeping them in check is easier if you have some knowledge about them and professional hands within reach. The above are just a few of the common ways used to eliminate gophers in the Golden State.