About Pocket Gophers and How to Control Them
Plains Pocket Gopher
Pocket gophers are medium sized burrowing rodents ranging from 5 to nearly 10
inches long and live underground almost all the time. They are called pocket
gophers because of their fur-lined cheek pouches outside of the mouth, one on
each side of the face. These pouches or "pockets" are used for carrying food.
They are active year round. They are powerful diggers and have front paws with
Typical Gopher Tunnel System
The pocket gopher digs with its claws and teeth and kicks soil, rocks and other
items away from the digging area with its hind feet. Then the gopher turns over
and uses its forefeet and chest to push the soil out of its burrow.
Click here to see side view of mound.
Digging conditions are usually optimal
year round and mounds can appear at any time. Greater activity will occur in well
kept, irrigated areas with much vegetation. The poorer the habitat, the larger
the burrow system required to provide sufficient food. Gophers also gnaw and
damage plastic water lines and lawn sprinkler systems. Mounds on lawns interfere
with mowing equipment and can ruin the aesthetics of well kept turf grass.
Burrow systems consist of a main burrow, generally 4 to 18 inches below ground
and parallel to the surface, with a variable number of lateral burrows off the
main burrow. These lateral burrows end at the surface with a fan-shaped soil mound
or sometimes with only a soil plug. Some parts of a burrow system may be as deep
as 5 or 6 feet. Deeper branches off the main burrow are used as nests and food
caches. The diameter of a burrow is about 3 inches, but varies with body size.
A single pocket gopher can create several mounds in a day and can construct as
many as 300 soil mounds in a year while moving over 4 tons of soil within a few
weeks of work. Burrows are continually changing, with old tunnels being sealed off
and new ones excavated. A single gopher burrow system will be about 50 feet in
No one really knows how many linear feet of tunnels a single pocket gopher can
construct in a lifetime, but it is undoubtedly in the thousands of feet. Typically,
there is only one gopher per burrow system except when mating occurs and when
the female is caring for her young.
How to determine if a pocket gopher occupies a tunnel system
An easy method to determine if a pocket gopher occupies a tunnel system is to
simply dig open the tunnel. If a gopher lives in the tunnel, the hole will be
plugged within a day or two.
In areas with snow, gophers create burrows within the snow.
When the snow melts, long earthen cores on the surface can be seen.
Don't confuse pocket gophers with ground squirrels. Sometimes people call ground
squirrels "gophers." Unlike ground squirrels, which have open holes leading to
their tunnel system and are often seen outside their holes, pocket gophers spend
almost all their time in their sealed tunnel systems.
|Picture provided by Scimetrics Ltd. Corp.|
What Gophers Eat & Where They Live
Pocket gophers eat forbs (a non-grasslike herbaceous plant), grasses, shrubs,
even small trees. Some preferred forbs include alfalfa, dandelion, and prickly
pear cactus. They will move out of fields that are tilled annually because such
places lack sufficient food. They may go to the surface, venturing only a body
length or so from their tunnel opening to feed on above ground vegetation. They
mainly feed on the roots they encounter when digging. Sometimes they pull the
vegetation into their tunnel from below. Pocket gophers occupy a wide variety of
habitats, from low costal areas to elevations above 12,000 ft.
Controlling Gophers -- Correct Bait Placement & Application Directions
Gopher control is most effective when gophers are active near the surface.
First, locate the areas of recent gopher activity based on fresh mounds with dark,
moist soil. The fresh soil mounds are the plugged openings of lateral tunnels.
The key to controlling gophers is locating the main burrow system for correct bait
placement. The main runway generally is found 12 to 18" away from the plug on
the fan-shaped mounds and are 6 to 12" deep. Always place pocket gopher bait in
the main burrow tunnel, not the lateral tunnels.
Use a metal rod probe to locate the main burrow. You may have to probe repeatedly
to locate the gopher's main burrow. When the probe penetrates the gopher burrow,
there will be a sudden, noticeable drop of about 2 inches. Twist and rotate to
enlarge the hole. Place a funnel in the hole and pour in ½ cup of
Kaput -D Pocket Gopher Bait. Do not allow loose soil
to cover the bait. After placing the bait in the main burrow, close the probe
hole with a sod clump, rock, or some other material such as a wad of newspaper
to exclude light and prevent dirt from falling on the bait. Several bait
applications within a burrow system will increase your success. Treat three
of the freshest mounds within each burrow system (a circle with about 50 foot
diameter). Tamp down existing mounds so you can distinguish new activity.
The pocket gopher should be eliminated within a week. Re-treat if fresh mounds
appear after 2-3 weeks.
The Kaput Gopher Bait Applicator makes it much easier
and safer to apply the bait and leaves the tunnel undamaged. No need to dig
into the tunnel for bait placement. Fill the applicator with bait and locate
the main burrow tunnel. Just three to four turns of the lever will apply the
recommended ½ cup of bait.
Follow Up and Monitoring
Once pocket gophers have been controlled, level the existing mounds. It is
important to monitor the area regularly for reinfestation because pocket
gophers may move in from surrounding areas.
Order the Kaput Gopher Bait Applicator Now
Kaput-D Pocket Gopher Bait can only be sold in states
where pocket gophers are a pest.
For This reason we can NOT sell in the following states:
AL, CT, DE, DC, HI, IL, IN, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MS, NH, NJ, NY, NC, OH, PA, PR, RI, SC,
TN, VT, VA, WV
Kaput®-D Pocket Gopher Bait is a grain based product,
with an EPA general use label for use against pocket gophers. Our bait is
proven effective in laboratory and field tests in controlling damage caused
by pocket gopher infestations. Until now, most baits available to control
pocket gophers have been products without an antidote. This poses a risk to
wildlife and pets. Our diphacinone bait has an antidote: Vitamin K1.
Kaput Gopher Bait Applicator $75.00
Shipping weight 6 lb.
Kaput-D Pocket Gopher Bait 10 lb. Pail $36.95
Shipping weight 12 lb.
Total Gopher Control System $111.00
10 lb Pail of Bait plus Bait Applicator
Ships in two boxes.
APPLICATION DIRECTIONS: Use a pointed metal
rod to probe for the main burrow. The probe will "give" when the burrow is
penetrated. Remove the probe. Insert a funnel into the hole. Apply 1/2 cup
Kaput® bait into the burrow Carefully plug
the hole with leaves, grass or similar material to prevent light from entering
and soil from covering the bait. Make 2-3 applications per burrow system.
The pocket gopher should be eliminated within a week. Re-treat if fresh
mounds appear after 2-3 weeks