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Gophers: General and Interesting Facts & How to Get Rid of Them

Close up of a gopher half in the hole.

While it’s true that they might actually appear rather cute on the outside, gophers are actually a pest that you have to consider taking care of. We are going to help you out with that but before you learn the effective gopher control methods, it’s important to be well aware and familiar with the enemy that you are up against. This is the main reason for which we are going to provide you with quite a lot of information on those blind mole rats which are notoriously known for their long underground tunnel systems.

General facts about gophers

Pocket gophers are particularly destructive which could be a tremendous nightmare for property owners. This is mainly due to the fact that they take advantage of their sharp claws as well as teeth in order to conveniently excavate underground tunnels as well as long burrows which are capable of causing devastating damage to your lawn. Pocket gophers are called this way mainly because of their fur-lined cheek pouches which they take advantage of in order to transport their food to their underground tunnel systems.

There are quite a few different questions that you might want an answer to when you are reading up on the pocket gopher. So, with this in mind, let’s have a look at the most commonly asked questions and general facts about this particular pest.

1. What do they look like?

Now, the first thing that you need to be well aware of is the fact that these are rather small and burrowing animals which aren’t going to grow more than twelve inches in length. The average weight that they grow up to is about 8 ounces. They have particularly powerful forequarters and their forefeet have very strong and rather long sharp claws which are used for the creating of the pocket gopher underground tunnel system where they actually live. They are capable of creating fan-shaped mounds which are usually quite large enough to cause significant damage to a passing farm equipment, for instance.

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2. What do the eat?

These are amongst the most notorious hoarders. They are going to use their large and spacious cheek pouches in order to store food prior to taking it down to their long underground tunnel systems. They are going to use it and pile it up. This is why you can easily find outstanding amounts of food. They are well-known omnivores and that’s why they love berries, nuts, grass and different bulbs. The daily amount of food that they tend to consume is roughly equal to about 60% of their overall bodyweight. They use moisture in their food sources.

3. Where do they live?

The short answer is underground. Of course, that’s way too brief. Pocket gophers live in North America – there they find an optimal habitat even though they are known for being particularly adaptive. Their large underground tunnel systems can actually contain thousands of residents. They are usually attracted to moisture as well as soil which has light texture and edible vegetation.

4. What do they do on a daily basis?

Gophers are actually quite active. They can be active throughout any season of the year and regardless of the time of the day. At the same time, it’s important to know that they live as well as forage underground and they would emerge particularly rarely and only on occasions. Gophers are also known to be notorious hoarders. They gather food in their large cheek pockets and then they would carry it down their tunnel systems to store.

5. How do they mate?

They start to mate at about one year of age. This is when they are known to start breeding. The gestation period is known to last for about 3 weeks and after this time the female gopher is going to give birth to an average of two to five babies. This is something that’s characteristic of their mating and it’s important to take it into account.

6. How long do they live?

Gophers are rodents which don’t have an enviable lifespan. Their average one is between two and three years.

Now, as it goes, these are the interesting facts that you need to be well aware of when it comes to pocket gophers. Of course, now we are going to take a look at a few funnier facts which need to be taken into account. You probably didn’t know about most of them as they are quite curious. Let’s go right ahead and take a look.

  1. There is a total of 34 different pocket gopher This is absolutely astonishing, and it makes them one of the most versatile and numerous rodent family.
  2. The average size of the gopher is only about 8 inches long. They also usually grow to a weight of about 5 pounds, which isn’t something considerable but it makes them larger than other rodents.
  3. Gophers oftentimes move backwards when they have to move throughout their particularly long underground tunnel systems. This is something very interesting. They use their four-inch long nails in order to navigate properly through their tunnels.
  4. Did you know that gophers are actually known for cleaning their cheek pockets? That’s right – they turn them inside out in order to do so. Pretty high hygiene when it comes to an underground mole.
  5. Although their sight and hearing is particularly limited due to their overall living conditions, their sense of touch is out of this world. They rely on it particularly for survival. They sense a lot of the vibrations thanks to their overly sensitive whiskers as well as the tail which helps them feel out all of the different surroundings throughout the entire time.
  6. The lips of the gopher are actually particularly well adapted to close behind the four different incisors. This is what prevents dirt from getting into the mouth of the gopher as they use their actual front teeth to dig their tunnel systems. This is something particularly interesting.
  7. Their fur is particularly soft. That’s something rather interesting, given the fact that they spend almost all their life underground.

Damage caused by gophers

Now, what you need to understand is that the damage caused by gophers is usually a result of their feeding and digging habits. This is to be expected, given their actual way of life. In order to make sure that you prevent the pest, you need to look out for signs. They commonly include some of the following:

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  • Loss of surface irrigation because of tunnel drainage
  • Gnawed electrical lines as well as lines for your sprinklers which are underground
  • Root damage as well as exposure of the seeding of trees
  • Gopher mounds – crescent shaped piles of soil which mark the tunnels which are plugged

Now, there are a few more integral things that you might be looking for. The aforementioned are rather generalized when it comes to it. The following are far more integral and you can take a look as it follows:

1. Irrigation pipes mounds and tunnels

One of the best ways to establish that you have an issue with gophers is to check out the underwater pipes for your irrigation systems. If you find that they have been gnawed and chewed on, the remaining is pretty self-explanatory.

In fact, gophers are capable of causing a significant amount of damage in this particular regard and if it goes so far it is important to call in the professional gopher trappers.

2. Damaged lawns and gardens

As we have mentioned above, one of the most distinctive habits of gophers are their underground tunnel systems which are going to cause devastating effects to your garden and lawns. In fact, the holes can get so bad that they can even cause certain equipment such as a regular lawn mower, for instance, to fall in. This is definitely something that you might want to be looking out for and it’s one of the things which are particularly important.

3. Destroyed underground cables

Are you running some of the electricity cables for the lighting of your garden underground? Has something stopped working out of the blue? Maybe some of your outdoor lights are flickering unexplainably? Well, if that’s the case, you might want to take a look at the cable that you’ve buried underground. While this is something particularly convenient, it’s also one of the most commonly found issues with gophers. Yes, they are going to chew through the cables without any issues and they are going to cause major and rather integral issues for your home. This is why you need to make sure that you get the help that you need.

4. Damaged sprinkler system

The idea is the same. Sprinkler systems usually rely on regular plastic tubing and water pipes for the water supply. Well, the truth is that this plastic is absolutely no challenge for the strong claws and front teeth of an older gopher and he’s likely to chew through it without any significant difficulty. This could cause quite a lot of nasty damages and it’s important that you react swiftly and on time.

As you can see, there are quite a lot of different reasons for which you might want to take a look at gopher control methods. Whether you are utilizing humane gopher removal or not is entirely up to you but a little piece of advice would be to rely on professional gopher removal experts as they are most definitely well aware of how to handle a situation of the kind.

Now, let’s have a look at some of the methods that you can get rid of these incredibly burdensome menaces.

Effective ways to get rid of gophers

There are quite a few different things that you can do in order to get rid of these bothersome little rodents. Let’s have a look at some of the most effective and at the same time most commonly used gopher control methods.

1. Traps

Traps are the first of your options even though they are known for being not as convenient as other particularly effective gopher control methods. However, they are a way of friendly gopher control as opposed to some of the other methods that we will be sharing with you. The bait is rather common – just use some of their favorite nuts. However, keep in mind that gopher trapping isn’t going to work if there is an entire family beneath your lawn.

2. Poisons

Poisons are a particularly effective way of dealing with these rodents. Be sure that these little rodents aren’t going to go away on their own and you need to make sure that you do everything you can. There are quite a lot of different poisons that you can take advantage of. However, this is something which should also be undertaken with particular caution. The reason for this is because poison can have long-term residual effects on your lawn and that’s definitely something that you want to take into account.

3. Repellents

There are quite a lot of different repellents that you can take advantage of. The most important consideration here is that you use them near or in the holes of the gopher.

There are both granules which could be sprinkled onto the ground and conveniently watered in as well as ready-to-spray liquid repellents that you can connect and spread with an underground hose. OF course, there are also more contemporary yet questionable in terms of effectiveness ultrasonic repellents. They send signals and vibrations underground, chasing the rodents away.

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Conclusion

As you can see, pocket gophers are definitely an interesting type of rodents to handle. This is something that you need to be well aware of. Even though some of their senses are rather dulled, they require significant amount of effort to be handled properly. Make sure that you follow the aforementioned advice and that you take advantage of the information provided in order to ensure that they don’t ruin your backyard. This is something very important, especially if you live in an area in which that’s an issue.

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