How to Trap Gophers

by updated 2012/05/12

victor trap reduced Or maybe I should say how to be unsuccessful trapping gophers.  Much to the relief of the little furry devils that have decided this year my garden is the place to tunnel and reproduce; I am not one of the great trappers of all time.  As a matter of fact I make Bill Murray look like the best that ever chased one of these pocket gophers.   Maybe that’s it.  Word has gotten out that my gardens are the safe place to spend the summer.  Well…. “things are going to change” I said as I headed to the store to buy a few new traps.  Yes things are going to change.

Now you might ask, (you might if you are not a gardener), why we can’t live with a few gophers in the garden.  After all we are all creatures of the earth, right?  As is said, if you have to ask……..  Anyway a single gopher can wipe out an entire garden if left to its own devices.  I have way more than a single gopher.  My garden is in big trouble.

For many years I have owned a couple of box type traps to go after the occasional gopher that takes up residence.  Once in a blue moon I catch one, but usually I think it is all my digging and disrupting their burrows setting the traps that convinces them to go somewhere else.  This year nothing deters them.  After returning from the store with a couple of Macabee traps, a new Victor box trap and one other brand I can’t remember the name of, I set about the dirty business.  The Macabee, (I think a better name would be “Macabre” look awful.  If these things are as deadly as they look the gophers are in big trouble.  I set one of these a few days ago and supposedly they are fool proof and very successful as long as you remember to tie a string to it and stake it to the ground.  Nothing yet.  The really weird story involves the Victor box trap.

Now these things are large and made of heavy plastic, one is pictured above.  If a gopher is trapped in one of these, it is probably instant demise.  There is no way a pocket gopher could move the trap.  I dug out the entrance to one of the gopher tunnels and set the trap.  The next morning I walked out to the front field where one of my vegetable gardens is to check.  The trap was gone.  No evidence of anything, just gone.  I looked all over and it could not be found.  Now what the???!!! At first I thought alright, I am not so young any more, did I really set it where I thought I did?  Did I even set it at all?  Because I have been eating my vegetables and hence have no memory issues, I realized I did set it and it was really gone.

After much thought all I can come up with is this possibility.  We live in a place where there are skunks, opossums, raccoons, coyotes, and even foxes.  What I am thinking is this.  Maybe a gopher was caught and one of the larger animals smelled it, grabbed the gopher and the trap and dragged it off into the underbrush to eat the gopher.  Maybe I am crazy, but that is all I can come up with????  So I guess I will have to buy myself another of these traps and secure it somehow when I set it.  In the meantime I need to go outside and tend to the other traps I have going.  If I can’t get rid of the ##$$!!!%%  **!!!, I mean gophers, it won’t be for lack of trying.

Will Sig
1 Brooke

Think you can come capture the mystery monster that has taken up residence in the backyard under the bedroom window… It’s got to be a pocket gopher but we can’t get rid of it.. Only one and no garden so not sure why it picked there to live.. Plus we have the dogs so it must be insane to pick the backyard as a new house… Good Luck with your removal of gophers… Sounds like ya got your hands full..
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2 Anna

Hey Will I need one of those, one for the chipmunk, one for the raccoon, and one for some rodent that sits in my window frame, lol. Great post, and glad I don’t have those gophers on my property, lol, Good luck, Anna :)
.-= Anna´s last blog ..A Bit of Knowledge: What a Habit, a Forest and the ISO Setting Have in Common =-.

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3 Steve

Hey Will,
I feel your pain, brother. I have lost many a plant to the gophers.
For every time a trap has worked, I have had ten or more traps filled with dirt.
As to your disappearing trap, I had the same thing happen to me at a different house several years ago, with a red wooden box trap that I had borrowed from a friend. The trap was supposedly really old (maybe handed down through the generations?), and he called it “old faithful”. I felt REAL bad losing it. I think maybe a coyote hauled it away after it got the gopher, but we’ll never know.
Anyway, good luck with your gopher war. I’ve got a bit of a battle going on here this year, and have had little luck so far. Steve
.-= Steve´s last blog ..Spam My Blog – Win a Free Link =-.

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4 Wilson Pon

Will, instead of trapping and killing the gophers, why don’t you plant the Oleander, garlic or onion inside your garden? As I knew, the gophers hate these plants and will surely away from your garden!

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5 Internet Strategist

A friend of mine does animal rescue and we ended up with the perfect solution to gophers but not to huge holes all over the place! We have a dog that is a gopher hunting fool. She digs them up. They don’t have a chance to get into the garden because she gets them on their way across the pasture underground.

I have a strong aversion to anyone planting Oleander. It is to toxic that Santa Anita racetrack once had two of the Budweiser Clydesdales die when a groom let them nibble on it. There were numerous Veterinarians on the grounds but there is (was?) no antidote. A few leaves can drop a full grown horse.

Decades ago I remember a couple of boys almost dying when they used a branch off an Oleander plant to roast marshmellows.

I would try the onions and garlic and if that doesn’t work I’ll tell you about another method I have heard about but never used. They say you can find a hole, light a road flare and stick it smoking end into the hole and then mound the dirt around it. What happens next I can’t say. I don’t know if that flushes them out or they did of the smoke.

When I was young my Mom got so frustrated with gopher holes she stuck the hose into one. It flushed them up out of the hole and our dog cornered one and we caught it. Then you have the problem of what to do with it though.
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6 Internet Strategist

A friend of mine does animal rescue and we ended up with the perfect solution to gophers but not to huge holes all over the place! We have a dog that is a gopher hunting fool. She digs them up. They don’t have a chance to get into the garden because she gets them on their way across the pasture underground.

I have a strong aversion to anyone planting Oleander. It is to toxic that Santa Anita racetrack once had two of the Budweiser Clydesdales die when a groom let them nibble on it. There were numerous Veterinarians on the grounds but there is (was?) no antidote. A few leaves can drop a full grown horse.

Decades ago I remember a couple of boys almost dying when they used a branch off an Oleander plant to roast marshmellows.

I would try the onions and garlic and if that doesn’t work I’ll tell you about another method I have heard about but never used. They say you can find a hole, light a road flare and stick it smoking end into the hole and then mound the dirt around it. What happens next I can’t say. I don’t know if that flushes them out or they did of the smoke.

When I was young my Mom got so frustrated with gopher holes she stuck the hose into one. It flushed them up out of the hole and our dog cornered one and we caught it. Then you have the problem of what to do with it though.
.-= Internet Strategist @GrowMap´s last blog ..Add a Twitter Field to Your Comments =-.

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7 Dave

Regardless if it was stolen or if a bigger animal walked off with it, I’m really wondering if this contraption will work for squirrels. I have a tremendous problem with squirrels where I live. They dig up everything I plant!

dave

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8 Will

Thanks for all that info I.S. I have been so busy for the past week I have not even looked at the garden for gopher damage. I did get out there last night and set a trap and got one. It had tunneled right under one of my tomato plants. My tomatoes are finally ripening like crazy. I seem to have some raccoons in one of the gardens that are eating them though.

One of the guys I worked with swears his father used to give his 4 kids shovels and then stick a garden hose down the hole. When the gophers surfaces, they were attacked with the shovels.

By the way, here is a link to the famous legend of the fatal wienie, or marshmallow, roast. It is interesting how long the story has been told. Its odd because I swear I heard that same story about the boys back in the 1980’s in California. It grows all over there. In some freeway median strips it is so thick it stops out of control cars from going through to the opposite lanes.

Thanks for your comment!

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9 Gail Gardner

Probably because it happened in SoCal in the ’80s while I was living there. And yes, they plant it in the medians and sometimes on the outside of the lanes for a wind block in sandy areas in the dessert (although there is some huge rapidly spreading plant they use more for that).
Gail Gardner recently posted..NEW Clear, Comprehensive Book: Performance Marketing for Professionals [Affiliate Marketing] #ecommerceMy Profile

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10 Will

Ha! Hope you did not know any of the Boy Scouts in question! Actually here is an interesting read about that story:
http://www.snopes.com/horrors/poison/oleander.asp

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11 Dennis the Vizsla

I’ve used this trap too. It seems to be more effective than the side-snapping needle traps, and substantially less nasty. I hate trapping the little guys but they make holes in the yard that could break a dogs leg when it’s running at high speed.
.-= Dennis the Vizsla´s last blog ..Pugforgiven =-.

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12 Will

Yes they do and their tunnels can indeed be dangerous. They also eat some plants. Years ago I had some corn in rows just getting started, about 10-15 inches tall. I noticed one day when working in the garden that one of the stalks was wiggling and that a couple beside that one were shorter than the others. I kept working and later noticed one of those stalks on its side and another about 4 inches tall and wilted. I dug down and found a gopher tunnel. They had been eating the corn plant, pulling it down into the ground as they went!

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13 Hillary

I had one that messed up my cat pretty badly. And then my friends husband had to stake out the guy and shoot it. We couldn’t catch it for anything either, and we didn’t have a garden. I think it was a gopher I am not really sure though. could have been a hedgehog.
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14 Death to gophers

Tried the supposedly deadly smoke bombs, fun but ineffective. Tried the noise makers….no good. Tried the water hose, they seemed to like it! Tried the windmill that is supposed to keep them away, they love it! Finally after our little toddler tripped in a gopher hole, got a bloody nose & cried – we got serious. Black box trap worked overnight! Our yard is so full of mounds & holes it looks awful. Killed part of the garden & starting on the roots of our peach tree. We had to drown the nasty critter because it was not yet dead. But the dogs now have the idea & eagerly accompany me when I go out to check my trap line & look for any new holes. It’s kinda interesting & fun for the dogs. But I don’t think gophers taste good to dogs because ours were not eager to bite it, just sniffed.

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15 Will

Over time I have found that the mole cinch traps work best for me. It also depends on the gopher’s brains, I think. Some get caught very soon after setting a trap, but others somehow push the dirt around the trip mechanism time after time, avoiding capture. Although frustrating, if I keep replacing the traps, eventually I get it. Moles, on the other hand, are really tough. The only success I have had with them is to sit and watch for dirt movement as they extend their tunnels. If I see dirt being pushed up, a quick, quiet, shovel inserted just behind the moving dirt and flipped onto the ground often exposes the mole. Then is is just a matter of putting the shovel to a good alternative use.

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