Gopher Control

gophers

Control Methods: Population reduction using poison bait in tamper resistant bait stations.


Rodent species native to North America play an integral role in the formation and sustainability of natural ecosystems. Many native rodents including ground squirrels and pocket gophers are considered keystone species because their presence is central to the survivability of their ecosystems.


Native and other non-native rodents do come into conflict with human interests. Rodents can cause a number of problems outdoors by consuming feed, damaging structures, creating hazards in pastures, transmitting disease and causing damage to trees, shrubs and other plants around recreational areas, farmyards and shelterbelts. The primary rodents of concern outdoors include mice, voles, Richardson’s ground squirrels and northern pocket gophers.


Richardson’s Ground Squirrel

Richardson's ground squirrels spend the majority of their life underground. In their underground burrow system, they usually mate, raise their litters for the first 28 days, avoiding predators (except weasels and badgers) and inclement weather (heat, cold and rain). They sleep underground from just before sunset until shortly after sunrise, and hibernate for up to eight months in their burrows. Each adult female owns at least one burrow system that has five to seven exits and two to five sleeping chambers, one of which is used for rearing young.


To survive without food or water for periods exceeding 210 days, ground squirrels need to consume vast amounts of food high in energy to develop a reservoir of body fat. Adult males enter hibernation sometime in late July, females several weeks later followed by juveniles until freeze-up.


The success in controlling burrowing rodents with poisoned food baits depend upon many factors, not the least of which is bait palatability or attractiveness. Other important considerations are stage of life cycle, time of year, availability of foods and population size. Placing palatable bait at the correct time and location when target rodents will consume it is essential to successful control.*


Managing Richardson's Ground Squirrels at:

http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex3471


* Information from: Alberta Environment

Gophers

one gopher
  • There are over 100 types of this rodent in Canada and the United States.
  • Gophers are easily identified by their long, hard front teeth, tiny ears, small eyes and short tails.

Gopher Facts

Size: 5" to 10"

Shape: Gopher shaped

Color: Brown with soft, fine fur. Legs: 4

Wings: No

Antenna: No

Common Name: Gopher

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia

Order: Rodentia

Family: Geomyidae


Diet

Gophers are vegetarians. They only eat roots, trees, shrubs, grass and plants.


Habitat

Gophers are known for building complex underground tunnel systems. They use their front legs and long teeth to push dirt out of their tunnels and onto the grass above. Gophers like to be alone and only one gopher will be found in a tunnel system.


Impact

Gophers can be responsible for ruining lawns, killing trees and destroying gardens, but they can also be an important part of the local ecosystem. They increase soil fertility by mixing plant material and fecal wastes into the soil. Their burrowing aerates or tills the soil. They can help speed up the formation of new soil by bringing minerals to the surface and they also serve as food for a variety of animals including owls, coyotes, weasels, and snakes.


Prevention

Control Methods: Population reduction using poison bait in tamper resistant bait stations.

  • Use underground netting or screen fencing to protect gardens.
  • Build gardens in raised plant boxes to prevent gophers from being able to dig into the garden.
  • Gophers do not thrive on annual grains because the roots of these plants do not provide them with enough food, so try planting annual grains as a buffer strip to protect other crops that are preferred by gophers.
  • If you do not want to plant grains, you could try a buffer of bare ground or a barrier of six inches of coarse gravel.
Created by

Legal notice