Gophers (Thomomys species) are the biggest member of the squirrel family. They are more closely related to the chipmunk than the tree squirrel. Gophers have two fur-lined pouches on their face that they use to carry food or soil. Of the five species of pocket gophers in California, Botta's pocket gopher, T. Bottae, is the most widespread. Gophers are 6-10 inches including the short tail. They are grizzled brown. Their burrows can cover 200 to 2,000 sq. ft. While feeding burrows are only 6-12 inches under the surface, the nesting burrows can be up to 6 feet underground.
Gophers can be a big problem. They bite and may carry rabies. They also can carry fleas and ticks that may transmit diseases. Finally, their burrows cause a lot of damage. They are a hazard to people and livestock who may break through the top of a feeding burrow and break bones or otherwise injure themselves. Tractors and other equipment can be damaged when it falls into a burrow.
Gophers can decimate a garden, flower bed, or tree. The gopher pulls entire plants into his burrow to eat. Bulbs are eaten in the ground. He also chews on the roots of trees and shrubs and may leave the burrow to chew the bark off of trees, killing them in the process. In addition, gophers chew on water lines or irrigation systems, and their burrows can divert water away from the plants that need it.
Gophers are solitary creatures, except when the female is nursing young or during mating season. They are active all year and at all times of day or night. Females can have pups when they are one year old. They generally have 5-6 young at a time. In dry areas, they generally have their pups in the spring and only have one litter a year. In an irrigated area, such as your yard, vineyards, or alfalfa fields, they can have three litters a year. The pups are weaned at six weeks and disperse at around six months. Gopher density can be as high as 60 gophers per acre in irrigated alfalfa fields or vineyards. Your yard, with its irrigated plants, can easily support more than one gopher.
Preventing Or Discouraging Gophers
For small gardens, you can string a wire mesh fence around the garden. The fence should be buried two feet under the ground, with the last six inches bent outward in an L shape. There should be at least two feet of the fence above ground. Gophers will sometimes climb the above portion of the fence to get your plants, depending on how hungry they are.
If you are building a flower bed, a garden, or a raised bed, you can bury mesh wire along the bottom and extending up the sides of the bed. When you fill this with dirt, it prevents the gophers from digging through and snatching your plants. This option, and the buried fence mentioned above, are labor-intensive and are not practical if the area you want to protect is large.
Get Professional Help
Gopher control is hard. You have to set the right trap in the right burrow or put the right bait in the right burrow, and you have to do it over and over again. Instead, call EarlyBird Extermination. We will come out and talk to you, then we will develop a plan of action to get rid of your gophers. We won’t stop until you are satisfied that the gophers are gone. Call EarlyBird Extermination today at 909-297-8694 and get rid of your gophers the easy way.