No outdoor critter wreaks as much backyard havoc as the gopher. These underground creatures rose to their zenith of fame in the hit movie, Caddy Shack, earning them a reputation for stealth and elusiveness that could put a covert CIA agent to shame.
Gophers are small, destructive rodents that live in burrows below the surface of the earth. Their days are spent creating extensive networks of subterranean tunnels, referred to as gopher towns, in a never-ending search of food. The end result of this constant digging? Destroyed landscapes and stunned homeowners staring at their once immaculate lawns in disbelief.
Gopher damage is often confused with damage caused by moles. Both of these critters can wreak havoc on lawns and gardens, so it’s important to properly identify gophers as the culprits so the appropriate weapon can be selected to get rid of them.
In addition to damaging lawns and gardens, gophers are also capable of destroying underground utility cables, water lines, sprinkler systems and irrigation pipes. Gopher damage tends to be the most problematic during the spring and fall, which is the time of year that gophers are the most active near the earth surface.
A good way to determine if a gopher is present is by mounds of dirt on the surface of the ground. These mounds are created as a gopher tunnels through the soil with it’s powerful front legs in search of food. As it bulldozes ahead, the gopher pushes the loose earth to the surface and out of the tunnel, creating a fan-shaped mound. Gophers are capable of creating several mounds per day, especially when the soil is moist and easy to dig through.
While gopher tunnels tend to be much less extensive than mole tunnels, gopher tunnels are typically larger in diameter and tend to be deeper. And, unlike mole tunnels, gopher tunnels are generally not visible above ground due to their deeper location. To determine if a gopher occupies a tunnel system, shovel it open. If a gopher lives in the tunnel, the hole will be plugged within a day or two.
Other signs of an infestation of gophers include, but are not limited to, damage to a large variety of plants, seeds, tree bark, roots, bulbs and more.