How to Trap and Kill Gophers




About: Nintendo 64? totally.

Gophers can be a nuisance for gardens, lawns and trees. They can Kill trees within days, and ruin a garden in no time. Killing them can be as easy as pie.
By the way, this instructable is in the "Get in the garden" contest; Please vote by clicking on the "Vote now" button above. Thank you! Your votes are well appricated.

Step 1: Anatomy of a Gopher Burrow

This is a gopher burrow. It consists of a mound, descending shaft, and tunnels that fork in two or three different directions. The mound entrance is plugged to prevent entrance of light.

Step 2: How to Trap Them

First, find the gopher mound. Got it? Brush the drt off the surface of the ground and feel for the plugged entrance hole. The dirt in this hole is usually very soft and easy to detect. Dig into this hole until it opens up and you can easially tell which way the tunnel is going.

Step 3: Place Your Traps.

Once you've felt the general direction of the traps, Go about a foot and a half from the mound and dig a hole that intersects the tunnel you felt earlier. Place the traps facing either direction in this tunnel, as shown in the crude but effective drawing. Place a peice of plywood or a large rock over the opening you just made and seal the edges with dirt. (Gophers hate light).

Step 4: Traps

The traps that I have found to be most effective are the so-called "Macabee" style impalers. When the gopher flips the panel forward, the two spikes impale him from both sides.
(Gruesome, isn't it?)

Step 5: Checking Your Traps

Tie each trap to a stake before putting them in the ground so that they won't be lost.
Check your traps every day, and if you don't get a gopher in two to three days, move them to another location.
Happy Killing!!



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    23 Discussions

    Gofers actually in the long term help the soil. They provide aeration, eat any undesirable pests that are underground such as grub worms, and do not eat roots! They are better than you think and just fill up the holes with dirt and put some mulch over it.

    15 replies

    Gophers definitely eat tree roots, and any underground plants you are growing (potatos, turnips, carrots, onions, etc. etc. etc.). They seem particularly fond of alfalfa and rose bushes. A troupe of gophers will make short work of a field of soy beans.

    They do not eat insects. I don't know where you get your information, but it is false. The small amount of "aeration" their tunnels do (which is not the kind of aeration that encourages plant growth) is completely outweighed by the damage they do to their environment.

    To sharpen their teeth, they often do what is called "girdling" trees. They will walk around the base of a tree chewing the bark until the bark is completely stripped from the base. This kills the trees, and is precisely the method used for years by many tribes of native Americans to cull/dry trees.

    Gopher holes are particularly dangerous to equines, as they are just below the surface and cannot be seen. Every year, thousands of horses are injured, or even killed due to gopher holes. Many people have been killed while horseback riding on a horse that stepped in a gopher hole.

    Gophers will breed dramatically quickly when natural predators (hawks, eagles, foxes, snakes, etc) are run out of a particular area. A gopher infested field is not only useless for growing crops, trees, bushes, or any other plantlife, but is also a danger to hoofed animals, particularly horses, cattle, deer, elk, etc.

    "Filling up the holes with dirt" will do nothing to deter gophers. They will easily and quickly dig through the dirt and reconnect their tunnels. Relocating gophers is also not usually an option, as it's simply taking one problem rodent and moving it to another location to destroy. (There are, however, companies that use massive vacuums to suck them out of their holes humanely and attempt to relocate them. Usually to zoos.)

    Gophers are the termites of the mammal world. They are a food source in the ecosystem, but when the ecosystem involves a garden, farm, orchard, cattle, horses or any other place that has been settled by humans, they are a very real, and even potentially deadly nuisance.

    With a name like "Trees Need To Be Hugged" I am little surprised by your attempt to say "killing gophers is bad" but if you wish to pose a debate, please educate yourself on what the animal actually is first.

    While a vegetarian may argue that it's unfair for a human to kill a gopher in order to grow the food to feed his family, what would be the argument between killing a gopher to keep numerous wild deer and horses from breaking legs leading to slow and incredibly painful deaths?

    *steps off of his soap box*

    Moles are definitely far less destructive to the environment as they are considerably smaller, so too are their burrows. They pose nowhere near the threat that gophers do. However, from a gardener's perspective, moles are also undesirable (if the lesser of two evils) as their primary food source is earthworms. Many gardeners go to the extent of growing their own worms for their gardens (and you will see many instructables here for just this). As you can imagine, if you've spent months growing worms for your garden, and a labor of moles shows up to clean your garden out, you would be less than pleased. As an interesting note, Moles also have a poison that can paralyze worms without killing them. This allows them to hoard hundreds if not thousands of worms in their burrows. A single mole can keep a small garden clear of earthworms year round.


    Reply 1 year ago

    moles don't have poison, but they cut the ONE "ring" on a worm that allow them to move

    FUN FACT : moles have to constantly eat to stay alive.. but the worms they eat have earth in them, earth which destroy moles teeth... in 4 years, a mole doesn't have anymore teeth, and die


    Reply 1 year ago

    > "moles don't have poison"

    David Attenborough and most sources on the internet would disagree with you on this point.

    A good nameJavin007

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Treesneedtobehugged: Gophers DO eat root plants. Javin: It IS immoral to kill gophers, although you do make a valid point.

    Javin007A good name

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    *heh heh* No problem. Wasn't aware that I had an issue with you being a vegan, so long as that doesn't involve you trying to push your vegan beliefs on those of us that aren't.


    PS: I may just have to push a small portion of my vegan beliefs on you. But only a small portion. I have to reserve the rest for Republicans and people from Texas.

    I know from experience that gophers do eat tree roots. One of our fruit trees all but fell over. After digging around the bottom of the tree (it was still relatively young) we found many gopher tunnels branching out in all directions and the roots supporting the tree were chewed in half. In our garden, we have pulled up carrots that had the bottoms chewed off, and the same with our onions. Perhaps you are thinking of moles? moles are much less destructive and, to my knowledge, do not eat tree roots.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    With the risk to my horses, cows and unsure steps of my elderly grandmother ... along with the destruction they are able to wreak upon my fruit trees and gardens, I have had to remove a few gophers in the past few years. Made a few videos that illustrate this post pretty well.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I've had good luck with the black box type of trap and it's easy to dump the critter in a bag with little muss when one hits the trap. I find the tunnel near the mound by probing with a piece of rebar. My soil is very sandy so it's pretty easy to tell when you've hit a tunnel. Also, I always wear gloves when handling the traps to avoid getting scent on the trap. Finally I usually don't completely seal the hole I make to put the trap in. My theory is that the gopher will head for the little bit of light I leave in order to fix the tunnel. Or maybe it's the smell of fresh air that gets them.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    By the way, everyone, please vote on my 'ible for the "Get in the Garden Contest". You don't have much time left to vote, so please help now!!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    While I am not really in favor of killing animals myself unless I'm going to eat them (which has only ever been fish), this instructable can probably be adapted to suit humane traps as well.
    Usually, it seems like people place traps just outside of the entrance/exit hole. I must give you credit for the explanation of intercepting the gopher's network of tunnels. It seems like a good way of catching them since they probably won't expect a trap inside their own tunnels... or maybe I'm over thinking this, haha.