If you suspect you have gophers in your yard, you will want to understand what damage they can cause and how to get rid of them. Gophers spend their whole lives underground and can cause extensive damage to your lawn and plantings.

Gophers are clever critters and part of the rodent family. They are small, with brown fur that matches the soil they love to tunnel through. Their most unique features are their large, fur-lined cheek pouches, which can be turned inside out for emptying and cleaning, and their lips, which can close behind their incisor teeth so they can loosen soil without getting dirt in their mouths.

Gophers are smart rodents and can be difficult to get rid of. It takes the right approach and persistence to eliminate them from your property. When looking out at a lawn with mounds of dirt, it may not be easy to distinguish between a gopher or mole problem. It will take a Critter Control specialist to identify which pest is on your property.

How Do I Know if a Gopher is in My Yard?

Nice lawns make the perfect habitat for gophers. They love healthy, loose soil, so the better your lawn looks to you, the better it appears to a gopher. Gophers love garden vegetables, bulbs, and other roots. Their primary way of foraging for food is to eat through plant and lawn roots as they build their tunnels. They leave the soil denuded as they destroy the plant life above them. One gopher will consume 60% of its body weight every day. This process can destroy the ecosystem beneath your lawn.

Signs of a gopher infestation include:

  • Mounds of dirt created as they tunnel underground.
  • Raised ridges that run the length of their tunnels.
  • Soft or sinking feeling when walking on your lawn as the dirt below your feet has been hollowed out.
  • Damaged and dead plantings with yellowing and wilted foliage because their roots have been eaten.
  • Gopher sightings, as these rodents are not nocturnal like most of their rodent relatives.

Moles vs. Gophers

Although moles and gophers can damage lawns and gardens with tunneling and foraging, their diets can identify them. Moles are insectivores. Unlike gophers, which are herbivores and feed on plants, moles are interested in eating the worms, grubs, and other insects found in the soil. So, while they might damage and uproot plants as they tunnel, they are not eating them.

Gophers vs. Groundhogs

Both gophers and groundhogs have brownish fur and large front teeth that help them dig. Groundhogs are larger and stouter. Although both are tunnel-creating rodents and herbivores, groundhogs are surface eaters that graze on grasses, clover, dandelions, and fruits and vegetables. Gophers feed on the parts of the plant that are underground, such as roots and tubers.

Gopher Damage and Gopher Holes

While you may never actually see one, a gopher’s damage can be considerable. Luckily, they are loners and quite territorial, so unless you have a family on your property, there may likely be only one of them to remove.

The unsightly gopher mounds and gopher holes made are just the visible damage. The tunnels they create and the vegetation they kill are at the heart of the problem:

  • Vegetation Damage: Gophers eating roots as they tunnel will cause serious vegetation damage. Your lawn will begin to have yellow runways that mimic their tunnel routes. Flowers and vegetables will turn yellow and die as their roots have been eaten.
  • Tree Damage: Gophers clip the roots of trees and shrubs, making it harder for them to survive and thrive.
  • Tunneling in Lawns: The ground above their tunnels will become soft and collapsible under your feet.
  • Erosion & Drainage: Gopher tunnels weaken the soil structure, causing erosion, uneven ground, and water drainage issues.
  • Underground Utilities and Cables: Underground cables, electric lines, and pipes can be damaged, disrupting services.
  • Structural Damage: Tunnels dug beneath driveways, paths, sheds, and house foundations can cause structural weaknesses and upheaval.
  • Safety Hazards: The holes pose a tripping hazard to people and pets.
  • Parasites: Gophers carry parasites such as ticks, fleas, and lice.

Getting Rid of Gophers

Extensive tunneling crossing throughout your lawn makes it nearly impossible to know exactly where a gopher is. Because of the damage they create, the best way to get rid of gophers is to call a Critter Control specialist who will arrive with the right tools and training to trap and remove the gophers humanely instead of through gopher extermination. Their gopher control specialists know how to locate these pests within their labyrinth system of tunnels. Once gopher removal is complete, homeowners can focus on Critter Control’s exclusion and restoration services.

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