One of the most endemic rodents on the North American continent are pocket gophers, more commonly known as simply gophers. They are members of the Geomyidae family consisting of a modest 35 species.
Gophers are moderately sized when compared to other burrowing rodents, with their body length ranging from 6 to 8 inches excluding the tail, and can weigh up to a quarter of a kilogram. Their lifespan is quite long among rodents as gophers could live for up to 3 years as long as they are not hit by disease or killed by predators. A few among them such as the genus Geomys can survive for as long as 7 years without dying in the wild.
Gophers are mostly brown in color which camouflages them within their environments. They have a unique feature in their cheek pouches from which they got the “pocket” name. These pockets are quite extended and can reach their shoulders. They have very hairy tails that they use as a form of sensor as they navigate their burrows, and have tiny eyes that gives them a fairly cute look
Gophers like other wild rodents are exceptional tunnel builders, and can create a very complex network which they use to evade capture from predators and also to gather food. The cheek pouches are deployed by gophers as a form of carriage, as they fill it with food to take back to their burrows for storage. Gophers can collect an impressive amount of food in their burrows, and unlike their cousin the squirrel, gophers are solitary rodents and like to forage by themselves. The only time gophers socialize with one another is during their breeding season.
Gophers love a soil that is easily burrowed and that is why they are very much attracted to gardens and farms which present a perfect burrowing and feeding ground for them. And this is why they are considered as pest by humans.
Gophers are mainly herbivorous, and their presence in a farm or a backyard garden can spell doom for most of the plants there. They are voracious eaters of roots, shrubs, as well as vegetables like radishes, and carrots. Even those that are not considered threatening to planted vegetation can still pose a great nuisance, as their burrowing activity destabilizes the soil and leaves the plants collapsing-in under their own weights with a weakened soil underneath.
Gophers are known to often breed exclusively during the spring months, on occasions however, they breed twice in a single year. The female pregnant gopher typically gives birth to three and sometimes four babies at a time. The young gophers are born blind and helpless until they get weaned within the period of 4 weeks after birth. Young gophers are rapid growers as they take less than five weeks to mature into adults and ready to establish their own burrows.
Gophers can make a terrible mess whenever they invade our gardens and farms, even if they don’t eat up the crops, they render the soil to completely useless by weakening its base structure. In order to control their invasive activity, the following simple measures should be deployed
Gophers are extremely vicious burrowers and if left unchecked might end up digging beneath every inch of your garden. Granular repellents are powerful against gophers as they affect both their taste and smell sense, an assault they can’t persevere with. When “planted” around your garden, granular repellents are quick in chasing away the rummaging gophers and prevent new ones from taking your garden as their territory
An innovative and highly effective alternative is the use of sonic repellents. These are electronic devices which are inserted in the soil, that then send extremely high sonic impulses that drives the gophers crazy and forces them t abandon the territory in as short as 7 days. Sonic repellents are so effective that gophers never return to their abandoned burrows. You have nothing to worry from sonic repellents as our ears cannot hear these sonic pulses.
When your garden is already invaded, sometimes you might not want to take the repelling option. Traps are a great alternative in dealing with gophers, as they prove highly effective against them. Some of the common gopher traps include:
Wire Gopher Traps
These are fairly simply mechanical traps that might look like a Chinese twister puzzle to the untrained eye but they are an extremely deadly trap for gophers. The typical wire trap is has claws or prongs that clamp down the gopher when actuated by the gopher’s movement.
Box traps were originally made of from wood, and were previously simply known as Red Box Traps. These traps are highly versatile as they can be used in catching a number of different rodents like rats, moles, and squirrels. Modern day replica of these traps is the Black box trap which is made of plastic. Their working principle is simple in that a loaded spring wire closes-in on and tightly grips the gopher as soon as it enters the box.
Black Hole Gopher Traps
These modified traps work in the same manner to the box traps the only main difference here is that black hole traps are designed to trick the gopher into believing it is another burrow they built, as the trap is shaped to mimic a typical gopher burrow entry. It is highly effective model and can yield much higher result than regular box traps.
The success in using any of the above mentioned gopher traps majorly depends on your knowledge of the burrow networks and strategically placing your traps where they will give the best possible results. With a little patience with these chores and you will soon be smiling from the astounding result in the form of a gopher-free garden where you can once again sit and have a relaxing time with the family.