Gophers are very small rodents that make their homes underground. They are solitary creatures that are active during all times of the day, but you will rarely ever notice their presence until there are mounds of dirt poking up all over your yard. Gophers can best be described as smaller underground rodents that are usually tan in color with a white belly and big puffy cheeks that they use to store their food. They rarely grow over a foot and never weigh more than a few pounds, but looks can be deceiving because gophers can be very destructive. In fact, they are so destructive that some gardeners, farmers and landscapers would go to almost any length to get rid of them.
Gophers are destructive because of the way they dig through the ground and their eating habits. Gophers live underground by digging tunnels to look for food and to reproduce which is a problem for you when it happens in your yard. Their digging can be a really big problem because it can destroy the root systems of any plants in your yard and will definitely kill your grass. Gophers mostly eat plants and vegetables and they can ravage parts of your crops or even your entire personal garden. Furthermore, gophers reproduce quickly which means you could have twice as many in your yard at the end of the summer than you did at the beginning. You can imagine that this quickly turns into a nightmare for gardeners, farmers and people who want to have a nice yard. Follow some of these do it yourself tips to get rid of the gophers on your property.
You can trap gophers much in the same way that you trap a mouse or a rat. There are live and lethal traps available that you can pick up at hardware and garden stores. What type of trap you buy is going to depend on your ultimate goal. If you use live traps you will have to relocate the gophers and if you use lethal traps you will have dispose of the bodies properly. Another thing to keep in mind is that trapping animals is illegal in several states and you will need to check the legalities before you set the traps.
Releasing or attracting predators to your yard is another effective way to getting rid of gophers. Keep a large dog in your yard or a large cat outside to discourage the gophers from sticking around. You can also release non-venomous snakes into your yard which will significantly reduce your gopher population. The great thing about this, if you can handle the snakes, is that they will move on once the gophers are gone. Owls and hawks are the other natural predators of gophers and while you cannot release these birds on your property, you can build nesting boxes to attract them to you.
Smoking or drowning the gophers works well, but is really inhumane. To do this, all you need to do is block all the tunnel openings except one and lower the water hose or the smoker into the hole. After this is done you need to refill the tunnels so you do not attract any other rodents to your yard.
Poison is an option that many people turn to first, but it should only be used as a last resort as it is dangerous. Your children or other innocent animals can get a hold of the poison or your pets can eat a poisoned animal and become sick indirectly. This is not an option for everyone and should only be used if necessary.
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Gophers are mammals with brown colored skin and fur on the body. They can grow up to 12 inches in size and weigh a couple of pounds. Their favorite food is roots and they feed on fruits, stem, bark, vegetables and leaves as well. They have a furry and puffy face and long front teeth.
Gophers have pockets or pouches on their body which they use to carry food and nesting materials. They have small eyes and ears and strong large clawed front paws which aid them in their seemingly endless digging. They also have really sensitive facial whiskers which guide them in moving around in the dark. The four large incisor teeth help in keeping the dirt away from the mouth when they are digging.
They prefer to stay inside their burrows and are very rarely seen above the ground except for when they pop their heads up out of their holes to look around. They stay alone and are generally active most hours during the day. Other than mud and dirt, they are also known for making burrows in the snow. They have the amazing ability of pulling down an entire plant through the ground and down into their burrow.
Gophers live in burrows and can be found all the way from sea level to high mountain altitudes. The only requirement is that there is at least 5 to 8 inches of soil or snow for them to make their burrows. This amount of soil helps in protection from the variations of temperature. They prefer soil that is slightly loose so that there is continuous inflow of fresh air.
Gophers are known to plug the openings of their burrow in order to prevent predators from finding a way into their sanctuary. Their burrows are a large system of interconnected tunnels spreading over an area of 200 to 2000 square feet. The width of a burrow varies from 2.5 to 3.5 inches. Basically, there are two types of burrows; surface burrows and deep burrows. Surface burrows are, as the term suggests, shallow and close to the surface. These are used to gather and eat food. Deep burrows are much deeper and are used for mating, raising their young and serve as basic living quarters. There are food storing chambers as well and these are made about 6 feet below the surface. The feeding burrows are around 6 inches below the ground.
Gophers usually live for around 12 years. Late winter and early spring is the breeding season for them. They reach sexual maturity once they are three months old and give birth once in a year in non-irrigated areas and up to three times in a year in irrigated areas. Five to six cubs can be born at a time and the gestation period lasts for 17 to 20 days. The cubs are blind and deaf at the time of birth. They open their eyes and are able to hear when they are about 25 days old. The layer of fur develops in around 100 days.
At about two months of age, the baby gophers head out of the home to start a new life for themselves. They remain active year round and are not known to undergo hibernation.
Diseases they carry
Gophers are carriers of the rabies virus and other bacterial infections that can be transferred to humans.
Gopher Nuisance Issues
Gophers can cause a lot of mischief; they damage vegetation by eating and chewing on them. The holes made by gophers make irrigating crops and lawns very difficult. They also chew away and damage the underground wires or water pipes and destroy sprinkler systems. The holes they make and the chewing they do can cause damage to trees as well as other vegetation. Because they make so many holes, pets and animals are in danger of accidently stepping into a hole and become injured or even breaking a limb.