Worried about Gophers in the Yard?
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Homeowners frequently report hills, holes, tunnels, and mounds popping up in their yard. If this is occurring in your lawn, you are likely wondering what creature could be responsible. Two wild animals are the most likely culprits when it comes to digging up a perfectly maintained lawn or garden: Moles and Gophers.

It’s important to identify these species properly, as moles are controlled differently compared to a gopher. 

Because both of these animals spend most of their time underground, it can be difficult to actually see one. 
Fortunately, the signs, activity, and behaviors of these two species tell them apart. To help you identify the critter destroying your outdoor space, this guide highlights the differences and key signs left behind by moles vs gophers.

Any doubts? Call a Critter Control wildlife technician to help you get to the bottom of the situation and tailor solutions to remove the critter and bring your yard back to tip-top shape.

The Appearance of Moles vs Gophers


The defining features of moles are their massive forefeeet, sharp claws (relative to their body), small teeth, small eyes, pointed snouts, and a lack of ears. They typically weigh between 2.5 and 5 ounces and average just over 6 inches in length.


The visual characteristics that differentiate a Gophers from a Mole are their large cheek pouches, short ears, easy-to-see eyes, and long incisors protruding from the mouth. Gophers can be larger than moles, with some species weighing between a half-pound to two pounds and lengths reaching up to 14 inches.

However, it is important to note that overlap occurs between moles vs. gophers due to differences in age and species.

Mounds and Holes

Both animals dig extensive burrow systems. Each animal creates mounds of dirt at the entrance to the network of tunnels. You can identify a gopher infestation from a mole one by the piles of dirt they create. 

Mole Mounds

Molehills appear volcano-shaped in profile, with a hard-to-spot hole situated in the middle. These mole mounds are typically 2 inches in diameter, much smaller than gophers.

Gopher Mounds

Gopher mounds are often described as crescent-shaped, fan-shaped, or horse-shoe-shaped. The hole is usually plugged, and off to one side of the mound. The diameter of the mound is typically between 10 to 20 inches in diameter.

These mounds and holes are most commonly found in the spring and fall, a time when gophers are most active. Gophers may create several unsightly dirt mounds in yards in a single day. They frequently build their hills in gardens and landscaping, as these places offer a source of food and water. Lastly, Gopher tunnel entrances often have small piles of loose soil covering the opening.

Behavior of Moles vs Gophers


Moles and Gophers have a few behaviors that distinguish the species. The most obvious difference is the runaways produced by moles. Runways are long mole tunnels just below the lawn surface, which elevate the ground, forming small raised ridges.  These ridges are best described as “spongy and soft” when stepped on, and reform if the mole is active. 

In contrast, Gophers do not typically leave runaways, as their tunnel system is deeper underground.


Gophers are omnivorous, feeding on vegetation such as subterranean roots, seeds, nuts, berries, roots, tubers, grains, grass, and insects. On the other hand, moles generally avoid plant material, classified as mostly carnivorous with their diet reliant on earthworms and grubs. 

Damage of Gophers vs Moles

Both burrow systems can create extensive damage in your yard. 

Mole tunnels tend to cover more area underground than gopher tunnels. Gophers can produce up to 200 mounds in a year, using their claws and forefeet to construct their burrows, manipulating soil with their powerful legs and broad chests.

Gophers generate more damage above ground.  In many cases, gophers will even uproot flower beds and vegetable gardens. 

Both gophers and moles will continue to damage yards if allowed to remain. Underground utility cables and irrigation pipes are often damaged due to pocket gopher gnawing, and the pests break up bark when pruning and chewing on the bottoms of trees.   Gopher damage to root systems often goes unnoticed until the aboveground plants begin to wilt and wither away. Importantly, Gophers may attack other animals, including cats and humans, and can inflict serious bites with their long, sharp teeth.  

Moles typically go unnoticed until runaways or mounds are spotted in the yard. Over time, moles disturb grass and plant roots, stunting vegetative growth. 

Gopher & Mole Control

Attempting to control either species can be time-consuming and expensive. You must identify the main tunnel, use proper bait for the traps, and check them often! It is not feasible to exclude these animals from an entire yard, but we can protect gardens and landscaping. 

Homeowners who encounter either a mole or a gopher infestation are encouraged to contact wildlife removal professionals. The technicians at Critter Control have the skills and tools necessary to keep gophers and moles from causing further destruction in yards professionally and humanely.

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Customer Reviews

Kirk D.
It has been very effective at reducing the number of mice, lizard, and snake sightings. During one visit Edgar removed a rattlesnake he came across. We may see a snake maybe two to three times during the spring and summer months, but it has been far less than before.

Serivces: Wildlife & Rodent Control in San Diego
Robert B.
Full service. Excellent job of extracting raccoon, cleaning all animal waste, sanitizing, and spraying anti-parasitic substance. They closed all potential ports of entry, though the work did not match the vinyl, and it looks kind of tacky. They added blown insulation, which added a lot to the cost. They provide a one year warranty against animal intrusion, with an option to extend the warranty at the end of each one- year period. They were willing to work with me one the price. I will probably extend my warranty, and will definitely use them it the future.
Gene F.
I was really impressed by these guys. Got a call within a few hours of making an inquiry. Had a rep out to inspect the situation by the end of the week, and when they laid out the timeline they kept if not exceeded listed times.

Rob, Travis, and Jim were all professional, polite, and courteous and after months of hearing squirrels in my ceiling they are gone and the repair to my flashing looks excellent. Can't recommend these guys enough.
Bob I.

Jeff was incredibly professional and helpful. I'll use them again and would recommend them to anyone.
-Detroit, MI
Richard L.

Critter Control did a great job of evaluating our house for sites of entry after we found bats and a squirrel in our attic. They completed their work promptly and professionally.
-Seattle, WA
Kenneth H.
We heard some noise from the corner of our house. Concerned that it could be inside we called for an inspection. Jessy arrived as scheduled and conducted a complete inspection of our home. Based on a recording we made he determined we had a tree frog on our roof. I was pleased that we didn’t have any rodent in our house. And his inspection could a few spots I can tighten up around my house. I am very happy with the outcome.
-New Hampshire
Lee F.
We have a vacation home in Western Mass and haven’t been there much during the pandemic as we live and work in Atlanta, GA. On our most recent visit we noticed that we had some rodent intrusion as well as some un-welcomed wildlife who decided to make our vacation home their home.

We contacted Critter Control and Mr. Cahoon was quick to set up an appointment as we wouldn’t be in town very long. He came out and assessed our issues. He informed us of our options to both eradicate and control future intrusions. Keeping in mind that wildlife is wildlife! He quickly got to work eradicating the rodents and wildlife from our home and addressing the intrusion issues. We feel much better leaving our vacation home for periods at a time knowing that Mr. Cahoon and Critter Control did their job and did it right! Thanks again!
Mary L.
We bought an old cabin last spring , it was used for years as a summer vacation cabin, therefore maintenance wasn’t a priority. After our project to remodel started, we found evidence of mice droppings.

We immediately called Critter Control and they came and gave us a reasonable estimate to remove all remnants and insulation. They sanitized and replaced with new insulation and sealing up points of entry .

Seeing their professional work made us feel confident and secure that the problem was solved ! Everyone we worked with continued to show professional and respectful work. Highly recommend this company! We continue to use critter control monthly to be sure we are mice and bug free!


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