Moles and gophers

January 29, 2005

If anyone out there has a solution to this problem

please let me know. The best and only thing that

has really helped is my cat, and I can't depend on her.

It is getting really expensive to buy new plants and

have the pests eat the roots. Thanks


Comments (129)

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    Bethany, you really really need to read the previous posts before you add comments!!! REALLY! Sigh....I hope the entertainment isn't over!

  • Louisiana_greetings

    Boy oh boy, my moles went from building runs to building subdivisions!!! Dogs and cats don't seem to help, they just dig up the gardens to catch the moles, the vibrater sticks haven't worked, I have used the ammonia and it moves them for a bit. I wish I could come up with a sure cure for this problem, cuz I sure would be a rich ma ma:-) It's like a cat and mouse game I move them and they sneak back in! I think I have tried everything, and I just can't come up with anything that works!! The little varmits have a little bitty pea brain and we can't control them!

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  • patriotnutrients

    i have NOT ONE clue as to what has transpired. all intelligence reports indicate that the enemy may be regrouping. all is quiet on the front. TOOO QUIET! the last time this happened was just before the "RAT OFFENSIVE", back in '98! the lil "weasel wannabes" had a labyrinth of tunnels underground,including barricks, supply depots, hospitals, mess facilities, and an officers club!! all fortified by the rocky outcroppings of my garden, the enemy was well entrenched,............i am laughing too hard to type!
    dont know what seems to have happened but suddenly the garden has a burst of growth, outposts that i had bugged out of, can now be recaptured and resupplied. i may be able to reestablish my seedstock supply lines.

    i only threatened to use my "weapons of mass destruction" on them!

    BTW, still no water on lowest tier of garden, looks like there will be some yellow brandywines after all!!

  • patriotnutrients

    just one doggone minute there, louisiana!!!
    havent seen you round these parts before, BUT, this forum is in the midst of some serious scientific research!!

    where on this green earth did you get the idea that your dogs and cats should, or would, for that matter, be aiding and abetting the myopic maraurders? KEEEE-RIST, the gophers are bad enough!! CAN YOU IMAGINE THE SIZE OF THOSE TUNNELS!!

    as i stated previously, louie! in this forum, we are all SERIOUS scientists, out standing in our fields!!
    it is the nature of this business that we collectively collaborate, conive, conspire, contemplate, converse, concur, consumate, contrive, consent, construct and consider our current controversy, sometimes contentiously.
    SO, WE DONT NEED ANY "LOUIE COME LATELY!", just waltzing in and grabbing for the brass ring with dogs and cats!! do you even own a gopher blind, yet?!

    feel free to peruse the archives and find that we clearly have been able to SCIENTIFICALLY synthesize a very successfull method, because we're scientists, damnit!
    but first, you need to get the parts together for the "instrument". (all these items and plans are available thru ACME GOPHER EXTERMINATION COMPANY, contact them at

    1)gopher blind, 1 each
    2)wine coolers,
    3)22 rifle, with ammunition
    4)gross polluting vehicle, aspirated, 1 each
    5)landscapers flags
    6)road flares, 2 cases
    7)chewing gum, unchewed. the flavor of gum is determined by your sunset zone
    8)kitty litter, previously employed
    9)gasoline, jerry baker can
    10)sodium hyperchlorite(7% solution),55 gallon drum
    11)anhydrous ammonia, train carload
    12)large propane torch, (military surplus flame thrower works very well as a suitable substitute)
    13)more wine coolers
    the cooling plant of the current prototype model uses a "run to waste" system, that consumes about 1000 gallons/day of water/neem oil mix, with a few drops of dish soap to break the surface tension.

    well, what are you waiting for?? i thought that you couldnt join this forum, unless you already owned a gopher blind?

    welcome to the hood
    my sides hurt!!

  • Louisiana_greetings

    Jeff, I haven't tried pouring wine coolers down the tunnels :-) but it might just work! The little pea brained varmits might just get loaded and stumble into the trap that was rigged for them, you know the one where you dug the whole and put a coffee can under, so they would fall into it and you then can throw them into the yard of a crooked politician or other :-)
    Jeff,I haven't been here befor dahlin, I frequent the hypertufa forum and a few others, but I was lookin for a solution for another problem and stumbled onto the mole thingy and I couldn't resist:-) and with all the Katrina and Rita stuff goin on I needed a bit of humor and spice added to my life. Thanks

  • skaye

    I'm fairly new to gardenweb and have just discovered this forum. Found this recipe some time back and has worked for me.
    In a blender, mix 2 ounces castor oil with 1 ounce liquid dish detergent. The mixture should become as thick as shaving cream. Add an equal volume of water and blend a second time.
    Then fill a watering can with warm water, add 2 tablespoons of the oil mixture, stir and sprinkle over the mole infested area.
    I've found I get the best results if I use this remedy after a rain or a good watering. Repeat in 2 weeks.

    Good luck,

  • patriotnutrients

    now thats what i'm talkin bout, some good ol fashioned chemical warfare like gramma used to do!! we have already established that the lil things do not like castor beans/oil and this is a good distribution system. but would it just drive them farther underground?? how did the blender fare in the fracus!!

  • Pam Honeycutt

    I haven't tried them out yet but my friend grows
    caster beans and says the moles and voles will
    disappear. She gave me some beans to plant.
    Will let you know.


  • CSemerad

    DING DONG THE WITCH IS DEAD!!!!!! I have no idea what happened, but after much warfare the little buggers have given up and moved out! The last thing I did was open up a new hole and pour poison pellets in it, left it open, came back and it was covered up. I never saw them again after that, and it's been almost 2 weeks now. Yippeeeeeeee!!!!!

  • garden_grump

    I was stumbling around the net looking for a way to keep racoons from digging up my garden and figured I'd also look up gophers while I was at it to see what I could learn.

    Didn't find what I was looking for regarding racoons, but this gopher thread has been such a delight!

    I am impressed with the ingenuity involved in the many scientific schemes for getting rid of pocket gophers and other critters of annoyance.

    I spent many years doing scientific research on killing fleas on my dog, including using fels-naptha soap, putting the dog in a plastic bag with dry ice and holding the bag closed around his neck (with a fan in front of his face), doing the same thing and instead of dry ice, using chlorine ammonia mix etc. Somehow the dog managed to survive - but he's dead now (19 years is long enough!)

    So I feel right at home here, even being a newcomer to this gopher subject as I have a lot of scientific experience. And it's nice to know there are a lot of other scientific folks around.

    In the past few years I neglected our garden and now after returning to it's attention I find gopher burrows everwhere. It looks like they learned a lot from the Caltrance engineers that designed the L.A. freeways. So nowI have to get back into action.

    In the past I managed to control gophers pretty well. I learned this from my dog. To get rid of these varmints requires persistence, ya gotta keep at it every time you see a new mound.
    I do this: each new mound gets opened up to expose all of the connecting tunnels (if possible) and then pour a cup of ammonia and a cup of liquid bleach (the amount depends on the mood) into the hole and close up the opening real fast. Don't breath the fumes, and be sure to not let it leak - I believe the stuff generated is phosgene gas and is much toxic. The mixture boils and roils and makes toxic fumes that travel around in the tunnels and do their work. A little extra ammonia along with the critters adds nitrogen to the soil, so there are some plusses.

    Considering the nature of the science, this is no more dangerous than gopher blinds and shotguns, so it could work pretty much everywhere.

    A Gardner friend mentioned that gophers don't like fish emulsion in their burrows. It will probably call all the racoons to come and investigate. I haven't tried it yet.

    Hope this helps.

  • zeusnjacky

    Gophers are definitely a reoccuring problem here. I usually get about 15-20 a year (between dogs, swimming pool, and different extermination techniques). What I have found that works the best is the metal traps assuming they are in an area that you can increase the size of the hole easily. I typically use 4 traps in separate locations and usually will get the gopher within 1 to 2 days. Recently however I was faced with the issue of about 5-6 holes a day appearing in the middle of our lawn and rose bushes. Also last year all of my raised beds were invaded by gophers and both locations are not great for expanding holes without caussing considerable damage to surrouding fauna. I just tried a unique solution today that I felt should be posted. I read in several different articles on the net that carbon monoxide due to its weight is much more lethal to gophers than the gopher bombs and other fumigants. I tried a gopher bomb yesterday in a hole that was extremely clear.. I put the bomb in and it totally disappeared down the hole. Anyhow the gopher was back the next day so it didnt work.

    Anyhow my first attempt was to use my rototiller since it doesnt have a catalytic converter (much more toxic than a car). Unfortunately that test didnt go well because I attached a garden hose to the exhaust with a makeshift adapter. The hose melted after 30 sec. Hmm time for a redesign.

    My second attempt was more promising. I went to the hardware store and bought some flexible dryer piping. I hose clamped that to my cars exhaust and then used the same melted hose as before and put that in the other end with rags stuffed around it so it didnt leak. I check the airflow in the hose and it was good so I put in the gopher hole and put dirt around the hose so it didnt leak out the opening. After a couple minutes everything seemed fine so I checked my other traps I had in the area. Upon returning the gopher was sitting in the lawn apparently trying to get a breath of fresh air. Problem solved. Incidentally the gopher came out the same hole I put the gopher bomb in and covered.

    Now if the gophers in my raised beds return I have a way to get them as well and test if this was just dumb luck. I have heard that the golf courses in the area use exhaust from their vehicles to keep the gophers out of the courses and supposedly it is 90% effective. That was the reason I decided to try it.

  • danfl777

    I've been peeing in my backyard along w/ my male beagle and it has worked very good.

  • cat22woman

    Hahahah, this is great! I have something (kinda sounds like pocket gophers to my horror!), and I wouldn't notice them much except my dog is digging up my garden and back yard trying to get to them. I've never noticed that she's caught one, so I've never seen one close up. If they start tearing up my garden too, I'll at least know to come back here to get info on destroying them! :)

  • flowerfloosey

    owl boxes!! A friend of mine that lives in Oregon, told me that her gopher population has dwindled down to nothing after she installed an owl nest. My local high school wood shop makes them for anyone who wants one for a small charge. The only problem that they have to go up in a tree at least 30 feet. Mine is on order so will re-post as soon as I find out what happens. The master gardeners here in my town swear by them too!Guess they mostly feed on small rodent like animals.

  • jtharp

    I have had gophers destroying my two acres. I have tried all of the above. I recently started trapping with the Victor BlackBox and have had close to 100% success. the trick is to make their tunnel unlivible for the next one that comes along. I have a sprayer dedicated to pure ammonia, which I spray in the tunnel after a successful trap. the fumes linger for a long time and I have yet to see one re-occupied. (It's actually best to destroy as much of the tunnel that you can)

  • Louisiana_greetings

    I'm back :-) I just heard the other day-put exlax in the runs, don't know if it work yet!!

  • slogal

    Has anyone tried Underground Exterminator? It's a rubber coupler that attaches to a car exhaust pipe and then to a garden hose and into the hole. The gnawing ones are killed by CO -- a painless death, no maimed bodies to finish off and dispose of and no risk of secondary poisoning of predators. Seems to be a good method IF it's effective.

    Someone earlier on in the thread mentioned the Rat Zapper, which has worked very well for us in killing rats. One of the rats was so large my husband had trouble getting it out of the Zapper -- it took quite a bit of shaking to get it loose.


  • foothill_mark

    After losing four of my first ever planted heirloom tomato plants .... the main stem of my beautiful Brandywine was chewed completely through just a inch below the surface and left to wilt, hanging like from a gallows.

    The REVENGE factor runs high here! I've tried exhaust from a 3 wheel Honda 250cc motorcycle, steel fanged spring traps, full pressure from a garden hose for over 45 mins (never seeing a drop of water much less a soggy gopher emerge, a Gopher Gasser flare bomb, .22 Remington Long Rifle Sub-Sonics, Wilco Type 1 strychnine poisoned bait, peeing down open holes, a home brew propane/oxygen blaster, and most recently "Juicy Fruit" gum.

    I figure the attack on the Brandywine was the rodent's revenge for our attempt to get him with the blaster. War has casualties and I'm sure we've inflicted some, but the small victories only seem to delay more damage. It's a battle against insurgents that must be persevered. Semper Fi! Hoo-RAH!

    Sometimes the casualties are ourselves. Hope you enjoy this short (3 1/2 second) video as much as the gophers did! You can analyze the sequence of events by hitting the play pause button repeatedly for stop motion effect. No injuries, but it did scare the begeezes out of the photog (me) and prompted some modification of our home brew rodent blaster.

  • malorn

    I know a few paople have said this..but since using clumps of used kitty litter at every entrance/exit hole I more of them..I just put a clump in the hole...I have 5 it was a cheap way to get rid of them...

  • TwoMonths

    well, in S CA it makes no sense to use a vibrating repeller, I mean, we shake all the time, every day....just look at the earthquake site USGS and look at the San Jacinto fault in Riverside and San Diego Co....3.8 last night. but we get almost constant shakes it seems even not on the they like The poison pellets do not work here, they just push them out...and I do not touch them...use a spoon.

    anyone ever tried putting a M80 firecracker down a hole? not out for gas lines, lol. Or how about a firecracker thatis a Roman Rocket...might do some damage, lol.

    I do not want to repell...that is how we got them in the neighbor on corner repelled them all around from his back to our front and the other used road flares and drove some to the back least the ones that his dog did not eat (8 at last count). I want to KILL...we are thinking of a Caddy Shack sign for our fences and front yard. They are driving my husband to the grave...

  • tami_iowa

    Does anyone know if ground squirrels go underground/hibernate when the weather is very hot... near 100'? I have not seen any of my pesky friends for about 5 days now, since this heat wave we are having.

  • badnews

    I posted this some years ago but I thought it might help to post it again.

    To get rid of gophers I begin by washing my hands and putting on latex gloves and cloth gloves over them. I first find an active area. Not one with a 6" high mound but one just started (I used to mow the ground and see who started to kick dirt up - I have 1.7 acres). Next I use a 1/4" steel rod that I can bend but retains its shape. I use this to locate the actual hole and direction of the tunnel. Using a narrow hand trowel, I dig out the entrance to the tunnel. I try to be the least invasive as possible.

    I place the trap in the hole as far as I can without tearing up the ground. I use McAbee kill traps (I'm sure most open spring traps are the same) This is a tedious process, and I typically trigger the traps 4 or 5 times just to get one set right. The trap is tied to a stake using bailing wire - they will chew through string. I then put a stick of gum directly behind the trap.

    I've read and heard from a number of sources that they use Juicy Fruit out of the wrapper to kill gophers. Theory is that they can't resist eating and either choke on it or are unable to pass it through their body and die. Hearing of this, I integrated this into my "system", but I use the juicy fruit in the foil wrapper (only) as bait.

    If I am working the tunnel entrance I leave it uncovered (on the theory that the gopher may think this new hole just caved in). However if I return to find the entrance filled in, it probably means you are very close to a main tunnel. When working a main tunnel you have to put a trap in each direction.. After I set a trap in each direction, I cover it with nearby grass and sticks, and cover it lightly with the dirt I removed from the hole.

    I find that committing a lot of time over a short period is better than a little time over a long period. After buying our home I finally got around to doing something about the gophers. After I put together my process I caught 14 in one day using only 10 traps. Ultimately I killed 85 gophers on my property in about a month, almost all of them in the first 3 weeks. I have not found poison to be that effective, and definitely less satisfying. My current count is 118 dead in 15 months.

    One other thing I've heard is that you should leave the dead gopher in the hole so that other gophers won't reoccupy the same hole. But with a dog on the property I would not want over 100 dead gophers in the ground on my property. Rinse your traps after each time you use them, and wash them regularly in soap and water. Some people use vegetable oil to lubricate them

    The only thing I would add is that I now remove all dirt kicked out by the gophers. I use it on my property to fill old gopher holes (isn't it ironic). Otherwise you end up with large areas of compacted dirt without anything growing out of it.

    Using this method I was able to completely kill all the gophers on my property, not merely chase them into a neighbors yard like some methods do. In the spring I defend my property boundaries and trap any new visitors at their first sign. I also use poison and believe it works, but you can never be cetain if you don't see the body.

    Oh and by the way, if your biggest garden problem is moles, consider yourself lucky. While moles can create annoying and messy problems in a yard, gophers can completely take over your property and destroy your plants.

  • ventura_ca_royce

    I have successfully trapped gophers using a spring trap and a potato. My father taught me to set the trap and put a raw potato behind it. The potato must smell really good because the gopher runs to get it and hits the plate on the trap. My father also taught me to push the dead gopher back into the hole to repel other gophers. He never told me what to do with the potato, so I usually push it back into the hole too. One day I caught a gopher in the middle of our lawn and buried it in the hole with the potato. The next morning I saw something round and potato-shaped in the middle of the lawn, about ten feet from the gopher hole, and went out to look at it. It was the potato from the gopher hole. I thought a cat or a racoon had dug it out, so I pushed it back into the hole and packed it in hard with dirt. The next morning I looked outside and the potato was back in the middle of the lawn again. This time I dug up the burrow to see what was going on. The dead gopher was still there. A second gopher had packed dirt against the dead one and then tunneled around it and thrown the potato out of the hole. I have changed my mind about potatos. I now believe that gophers HATE potatos and the reason a potato is so effective in drawing them into a trap is they are running to get it out of their tunnel.

  • fescuedream

    Our method has proven fairly effective:

    A young, active cat combined with repeated application of JUICY FRUIT (very important) gum.

    Use at least a couple of packs of gum per application. Tear each stick of gum in half, roll it up, and place six inches from the mound. Surround each mound in this way.

    Buy the gum in bulk and repeat this several times - it took three applications for us. While I cannot prove definitively that this is what eliminated the problem, I do know that by late August the mounds stopped appearing.

    I cannot complain about our mole problems, which have been minimal, with these effective control methods.

  • fescuedream

    I bought what I assume is a harpoon trap - an ungainly steel contraption. It would not stay set, and requires a major hassle digging a large deep hole in your lawn. Setting it is extremely difficult and dangerous; mine would not even stay set. I will not buy another one and would not recommend these.

  • screaminvern

    Well I do feel foolish! I registered yesterday, posted a message in another forum asking a question that this forum deals with. Thats what I get for "NOT" following the instructions. Anyway, I have been experimenting with companion planting for several years and this year I planted a variety of herbs and alliums with the tomatoes and had a 100% reduction of the varmints and like I said in the other forum the only bugs I seen were bees, wasps and butterflies on the borage. I don't know if I have moles, voles or pocket gophers but next year I'll see if I can "getem" out of the potatoes and watermelon.

  • anaerobic

    Put ex-lax in their tunnels, they won't be back. ANAEROBIC

  • joelalthomas_gmail_com

    After many attempts, seminars, and close to deadly experiences I have found two things that consistently work to kill most burrowing pests.

    FIRST, a few hints:

    Burrowing animals only use most tunnels once or twice for feeding. You need to find an active run (probably common knowledge) before using any method of control. Smash a 2 inch section of their burrow and see if they rebuild within a couple days. If they do then it's active. Specifically with moles, they don't like their holes open, so if you open it and it gets filled in within a day or two at the most then that run is active. The tunnels to the mounds are only for disposing of dirt and should not be used for trapping or poisoning. This will only result in irritation, you need to find a tunnel they travel in regularly.

    Burrowing creatures are cautious if anything seems out of the ordinary to them, so keep tunnels the same diameter if setting traps.

    Use gopher traps for gophers and mole traps for moles. This is because moles will push dirt onto and over gopher traps, while gophers will walk over the trap first because they don't mind open holes.

    Moles are active in 4 hour shifts. In most parts of the world they are most active at dawn and dusk with the least activity is happening around them. So watch for their activity in the calm of the evening or morning to know where the active tracks are and the best places to set traps.

    Moles dig one main active tunnel in a direction, then dig side tunnels for feeding and pushing dirt out that they have dug up. So look for intersections, and set traps at the "T"s connected to mole mounds that are active. The mole won't return to the mound again, but will probably pass by it again if it was recently active.

    No trap, bait or home remedy will every work if not placed used on an active run under ground. This also means using these things during very wet, dry, or cold weather is probably a waste of your time considering the fact burrowing animals tend to change their habits and how deep they stay in their burrows to match environmental conditions.

    Always wear gloves, it is true that pests will bury or avoid traps set by people not wearing gloves because of the smell. Also I rub my gloves in the dirt before setting bait or traps so additional smells will be transferred less.


    The only poison I have found that is legally available to a homeowner and is effective is bromethalin bait. An example can be found at (though possibly not the best deal, shot around)

    When using this bait you need to either find an active runway by probing, or use the method I will explain here. You can't just drop the bait into the hole under a mole mound because it won't reach the active tunnel. Wear gloves when using this product, both for your own safety, and to make sure the pest doesn't smell you and bury the bait. You will need a wire claw like the one pictured here.

    The manufacturer doesn't tell you this, but a third of the worm will kill most small pests so split the worm into 3 pieces (don't set down the bait and leave a piece unburied, it will affect other animals that find them such as the neighbors cat!). Find an active tunnel, and carve the mound off the top. Use your gloved hand to probe and find the entrance to the tunnel. If you just drop the worm in nothing will happen because the mound tunnel is only a side shoot from the active track which is probably 8 to 12 inches away from the mound. Grab a piece of the worm with your wire claw and insert it as far into the tunnel as you can get it, farther is better. Wiggle it around to make sure it won't go in any more (is it in at least 6 inches?) then pull it back a half an inch and release the worm from the claw in the hole. Wiggle the claw back out, and cover over the hole. This method for killing pests is my favorite because it is low impact, no holes left over from digging in traps.

    If you do use a trap, the best one on the market is the Victor® OUT O'SIGHT® Mole Trap. This is also the only way you will know for sure if you are succeeding without waiting a week or two to find out. Ideally you will find a tunnel within 6" of the surface to set your traps. Here is my method for setting successful traps...
    First, unplug mounds, and squash surface runs in 2 inch sections to check for activity. If they are dug out again or bumped back up within a day or two then follow the hole from the mound back to the active track that it branches off from. Be sure to wear gloves to mask your odor! Use a high quality trap like the victor out o'sight mole trap. Dig out the hole, then reshape the tunnel edges the same size as the rest of the tunnel. Find a wad of coarse, dry grass and crunch it up into a flat pancake or a ball. This grass will be used to plug the hole directly under the trap where the mole is moving through so the animal will have to push the grass up and out of the way, triggering the trap. Make sure the hole where you are setting the trap is the same diameter as the rest of the hole on either side, and make sure their are no rocks. Burrowing animals tend to like smooth, compact tracks to run in. Place the trap over the tunnel that you have dug out and make sure it is centered. If you push the trap into the dirt too far it won't react fast enough, if you don't push it down enough then the trip plate will be too far up to be effective. Place your grass in the tunnel to obstruct the traveling pest under the trip place, then put the trap into place. Fill in the area on top of the trap with lightly compacted dirt so it doesn't block the trap from being set off. However, keep in mind the hole around the trap needs to be sealed fairly well, otherwise the mole will sense the fresh air and might push dirt down the hole in front of him and bury or set off the trap at the wrong time. (this isn't as much an issue with gophers since they open their holes on purpose) It is a nice when possible to leave an inch or so of the trap sticking out of the ground because it is easy to tell if the trap has been set off or not without digging it up. Take a bucket and a brick. Place the bucket over the trap, and the brick on top of the bucket to protect the trap and neighborhood pets from the trap. Check the trap daily, if after three days the trap has still not been set off and activity is still occurring in your lawn then move the trap to the location where the activity is centered and re-set the trap. Burrowing animals tend to migrate around lawns following their food source (in most cases grubs and worms).

  • tomatozilla

    Woo Hoo and Victory Dance!!! I am thankful this thanksgiving to have my first perfect kill in trap on a pocket gopher! The fiend had been burrowing back and forth of the property line for a week, menacing my fruit trees and all the vegetables we eat and causing some minor damage to my Suriname Cherry. Using advice on this thread (thank you) and googling I correctly set two traps wired to post in a main tunnel with a granite slab over, before several days of incredible rain, and when rain stopped I found him, an adult near the surface impaled through the heart (MacAbee knockoff trap), so he didn't suffer waiting for me to finish the job. What a relief! Snow Queen and the low-chill Cherry trees have been spared! He was laid to rest in his tunnel, under the raspberry bush. A molemover deterrent stake purchased at discovery of the unwelcome guest remains on guard nearby. I bought it because of the glowing expression of satisfaction made by a credible, intelligent customer at the hardware store seeing me considering the available remedies.

  • lynnibob

    Bill Murray went for the shotgun method, but even that didn't work.
    Stabbed through the heart? You are one sick mother.

  • gelillc

    Why do we need perfect lawns ....Moles aerate the soil and eat japanese beetle larvae Which is a good thing@!

  • murkey

    Over the past two years I tried just about everything recommended on this site. What seemed to work last year for the chipmunks and voles was a mixture of peanut butter, sunflower seeds and D-Con, placed in plastic containers laid on their sides next to the holes.I covered that with up-ended buckets, to keep other animals away from it, and it was eaten whenever I checked it. This year I have only found a few holes, but we had a record-setting amount of rain this spring (one storm dropped 4 inches in two hours), so maybe the varmints drowned. This year I tried something different on the new holes, soaking some paper towels in ammonia and using a straightened wire hanger to poke them in as far as I could. No new holes or runs have appeared. I also did this to some mole runs and they are gone. The ammonia seems to work as well as kitty litter or those urines from the garden store.

  • wildlifeinfo

    Gardeners need to stop viewing wildlife as intruders. They have no intention of bothering us. They simply want the same things as we do: a safe shelter, sufficient food, and a good place to raise their families. We owe them some kindness and respect. We'll have a clear conscience if we treat them humanely.


    Moles are fascinating mammals. They are often called "the gardener's best friend." Moles are insectivores, not rodents. They feed day and night, and ridding the lawn and garden of grubs, slugs, slug eggs, beetles, moth larvae, earwigs, snails, and sow bugs. Only occasionally do they eat a little vegetation. If something is nibbling your tulips it could be voles, who sometimes borrow mole tunnels.

    Moles have heavyset bodies 4" - 6" long, short legs with five fingered "hands," and eyes that are almost blind. They spend almost all the time underground in tunnels, temporarily used feeding tunnels near the surface and deeper, more permanent tunnels up to 30" below ground. Tunnels near the surface appear as narrow strips of slightly raised earth. A mole arranges its excavated earth in small circular hills with a plugged hole in the middle. In contrast, gophers push the earth into fan-shaped mounds with the entrance hole at one side. Moles are highly territorial and do not tolerate overlap with other moles. Therefore, if you have evidence of mole activity, probably just one active mole is there, patrolling its tunnels for grubs and insects. As one gardener has written, "A single, resident mole is a welcome tenant."

    Your grass may be greener and stronger in areas where a mole is active due to the mole's beneficial aeration and grub removal services. Because of all their assistance in soil aeration and pest control one gardening blog states, "The best way to control moles is to do nothing at all. Live peacefully with them."

    Moles rarely come to the surface, although a friend who works at a nearby industrial park discovered one in his company's corridor during renovations. He used cardboard and a wastebasket to transfer gently and carefully the nearly blind creature outdoors to a nearby thicket with recently watered, moist earth, thankful that it was he who came upon the confused, nearly blind creature.

    Once you are sure that you have a mole in your garden you can decide simply to leave it alone. It's easy to tamp down the slightly raised tunnels near the surface. Simply smooth out molehills with a rake.

    If necessary, moles can be deterred using the following non-toxic strategies:

    1) Reduce your lawn and you'll reduce moles. If you have a large, generously watered lawn you are providing an ideal habitat for moles. It is best to avoid over watering (and wasting water).

    2) Use non-toxic methods of grub and insect control, thus reducing the mole's food supply.

    3) Distribute a castor oil derivative such as Mole-Med in your garden. Castor oil spray is also effective for gophers. It does not harm plants.

    4) Around areas you want to protect, install 1/4" hardware cloth 12" deep with a 12" section projecting at a 90° angle underground.

    5) A number of experienced gardeners advise not to insert dangerous things into mole tunnels, not only because they don't work but because they can also put your kids and pets at risk.

    6) Daffodils are said to repel moles, also the Allium genus of plants (garlic, onion, leek, chives, shallots).

    7) Live trapping should be the last resort. It is risky for moles because moles cannot survive more than a few hours without feeding. Live traps must be monitored every hour, and relocation of moles must occur immediately. Be sure to keep hands away from a trapped mole as he will be very frightened and try to defend himself.

    As many gardeners point out, trapping or killing does not work due to the presence of deep, underground tunnels and food that moles like. Another mole may soon move into the vacated area. The trapping could go on forever, and new moles would continue to be attracted to the area.

    For helpful information on dealing ecologically and humanely with gophers visit "How to Get Rid of Gophers," message of 7/31/11 on the Garden Web.

  • bade

    With all due respect - and I mean that - the situation is much more complicated than people just getting annoyed at wildlife trying to share our space. In my entire life I have not witnessed anything like this. It's not simply a matter of wildlife losing habitat - - it's much more serious. An excellent case study is the way the eco-system recovered in Yellowstone when the wolves were re-introduced. Even the streams improved! Our entire eco-system is out of balance and the ridiculous monoculture lawns, use of glyphosate and other pesticides, and ornamental gardens full of exotic plants are actually *causing* the mole and rodent problem to worsen by creating an imbalance in the sub-terranian organism population. I'm about as deep green and pro-environment as you can get but until you have lived with a full on onslaught you simply aren't in a position to judge. I have a vole or chipmunk hole about every two feet throughout my entire front lawn and nearly everything in my veggie and herb garden has been eaten by voles or deer and they have even done significant damage to the foundation of my house. We are dealing with an imbalance, not simply resentment of other animals sharing our space. I have to keep neighbor children off my lawn for fear of someone breaking a leg or worse in one of those holes. I could go on and on about this but suffice it to say nothing is simple, least of all this subject.

  • LaurieK123

    I had a really really bad gopher problem. I tried to be humane. We bought thumpers and other things that emit sounds and vibrations that the gophers were supposed to hate, but they continuted to dig their holes right next the the supid devices.

    We tried the lame water thing too and that didn't work.

    Next we tried bait and that didn't work. We had to be very careful about the bait, because it is not good to use that kind of poison/bait in a vegetable garden.

    Lots of $$ gone now from my plants being destroyed and $$ out from all this stuff that isn't working, we started using flares and smokers. The instructions say to light it and put all the way into the hole and cover it up for an hr. So, I come out an hr later and the flare has been pushed up on top of the ground still smoldering and the creature has already rebuilt his tunnel (within the hr that it was supposed to be dying)


    Then we decided the gloves were off and we got spiky traps. I have to say that the ones that spike downward were a joke for us. But, now we are to the end of the story, which also happens to be the end of the growing year with half my garden destroyed and we are to the last thing we tried.

    We were now trying the rat-trap looking devices. We opened a hole up and put one in and laid some nastritium on the other side of it for bait. This was their favorit plant in my garden. AND, it worked, the trap closed on it, but didn't kill it. We had to try to pull him out and he got away.

    Turns out the awful truth was that the trap was painted all pretty from the store and the spikes were not sharp enough to do the job. So, we sharpened them with a grinder repeated the steps above and we got both of them. I did not want to kill them, but I was ready to do them in at this point and I was glad to see that it was very apparent that they did not suffer.

    I hope this helps someone.

  • hardscrabbling

    I've been fighting gophers for 50 years. I've used a blaster which does great destroying their burrow so new ones won't move in but scares the local cops and horses so I don't use it much. I used the McAbees for years but if they pinch but don't kill a gopher, you won't ever catch him. Old ages is the only thing that's going to do in that gopher. I now use the black box and have wonderful results. They die! I'm trying now to catch the pinched ones and am using various baits like peanut butter or sunflower seeds or tomatoes. Not much success yet but I'm still hoping.

  • PasoJackie

    The only thing I've found that works for pocket gophers is bait. It's tedious...poking around and digging to find the tunnel, then deposit the one-feed-kill bait. I try to get 3 to 4 tunnels in one treatment. Fortunately, there are not a lot of gophers per acre and poisioning seems to keep them at bay for several month. One got both of my Pozo Blue Salvias...ate the roots! Now I'm seriously on the hunt. I'm in the process of creating vegetation free zones along they yard/pasture fence lines, as well as vegetation free paths and other landscaping areas in the yard to remove as much food source as possible. Wire and built up flower beds help...and when I get the vegetable beds in, they'll also be built up with wire underneath...along with using old water troughs and other containers for gardening.

  • heather699

    I live in OK and I trap moles and gophers. I have been at it for just six months or so. I have always gotten gophers very quickly and moles are trickier, at least for me.

    I have gotten gophers while I set my other traps. The moles however are sneaky little buggers, but I do get them with the trapline traps advertised below.

    Never seen any success with chemicals baits etc. that do not cause problems to wildlife you don't want to rid yourself of and believe the traps, as violent as they may seem to be are far more humane than putting them through poisoning or bleeding out over a period of time. Once captured it does not appear that they last more than a few seconds or minute or so.

  • Asillem4

    In the past we used the battery operated gopher chasers which emit a sound the gophers don't like. When we lived in a sandy area, all our gophers disappeared and a neighbor told us she'd never had so many problems with gophers in the 20 years she'd lived there. :O We told her where to buy the gopher chasers.
    Now that we're in an area with more solid, dense soil, they don't work as well. I love the traps and will be buying some to keep the gophers out of my new garden area. I will plant in chicken wire baskets, buy Juicy Fruit, and continue to flood them out for our Catahoula to catch. He LOVES killing gophers!

  • vja4him

    Gophers have done extensive damage to my garden, and I was just about to give up gardening completely. I didn't even go into my garden at all for about two months (December 2012 through January, 2013). I decided to try a new strategy ... I've been burying lots of containers in the ground, including some large tubs and a few baskets. So far, the gophers have not bothered any plants in the buried containers.

    I've tried using smoke bombs, flares, Sound Devices that are supposed to bother the gophers (they are completely useless!!! I've invested several hundreds dollars in many of the solar-powered ones, and have watched the gophers pulling large plants down under right next the Sound Device!!!), Rat Poison, Juicy Fruit and Spearmint Gum, Flooding, Gopher Poison, putting poison in Potatoes (the critters love Potatoes!), Traps, Shooting, but they still keep destroying my plants.

    I had over 500 Pea plants and they only left me with about a dozen! They steal ALL of my good plants: All Greens, Peas and Beans, some Herbs (Mint, Dill, Fennel, Chamomile), some Flowers (Cosmos, Pansies, Sunflowers, Marigolds), All Root Vegetables).

    These are the few plants in my garden the gophers have either left alone, or haven't taken very many: Verbena, African Daisies (purple, yellow, and orange), Calendulas, California Poppies, Peppers, Tomatoes, Basil, Mint, Thyme, Oregano, Henbit, Stinging Nettles, Rosemary, Garlic, Geraniums, Carnations, Snapdragons, Bachelor Buttons, Ice Plant, Four O'Clocks, Pokeweed, Lemon Grass, Cilantro, Chamomile, Lilies, Rose (only one plant left!), Maple, Oak, Mallow, Thistles (don't know what kind, hoping to identify and that it might be Edible ...).

    So, my new strategy now is to plant things that I want to keep in containers buried in the ground. I have at least 60 containers buried now, including four large tubs, and some large pots for Peppers and Eggplant. The gophers stole almost all of my Eggplant last year!

    I dug several large holes and lined the bottom and sides with old boards. Have around 50 Potato plants which the gophers have not yet bothered.

    These are some of the plants I've planted from seeds in the buried containers, which the gophers have stolen from the ground in the past: Cosmos, Nasturtiums, Carrots, Fennel, Dill, Eggplant, Potatoes, Yams and Sweet Potatoes, Beets, Radishes, Kohlrabi, Turnips, Chinese Cabbage, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Collards, Swiss Chard, Green Onions, Kale, Marigolds, Peas, Beans, Chives. The snails destroyed all of my Beans so far, except for only two plants! So I have to replant the Beans, and use more Snail Bait ..... They also nearly destroyed my Chives, so will need to replant Chives too.

  • Kimmsr

    While there are a lot of people that will sell you most anything, and "guarantee" that it works, the only tried and true method of control for either of these is traps. Most everything else being sold is simply some means of seperating you from your money.

  • BKWildlifeCntrl

    kimmsr is right trapping is the most effective way.

  • vja4him

    Unfortunately, trapping is really not much of an option for me. I have a very small garden space, and over 100 gopher holes. I would have to destroy all of my garden to effectively trap these nasty buggers ....

    I'm considering getting a gas mask and pouring ammonia down an active hole, then pour some bleach ..... If there were no gas line, I would pour gasoline and light it .....

    I'm going to go back to one of my old strategies, which I think helps ... I cut small slits into a Potato, then put poison gopher pellets into each slit, and put the Potato down the active gopher hole/tunnel.

    They do love Potatoes, and snatch them up quickly. Usually, the gopher activity will cease for around a week, sometime two or even three weeks when I use this method.

    I've also thought of lacing Juicy Fruit Gum with deadly poison, but I don't know where to get the deadly poison in liquid form, so I can put a drop or two on the Juicy Fruit Gum ....

  • Leafhead

    They're baaaaaack! I just saw a CHIPMUNK at the feeder:-(

  • vja4him

    Another strategy I'm going to try .... Since I have lots of containers buried in the ground already, and many more still to bury, I was thinking about continually planting stuff the gophers like in the ground in certain spots, eventually leading them away from my garden, so that way, hopefully, they will have plenty to eat and leave my buried containers alone ....

    I might even try putting some of the Poison Gopher Pellets in the Beets (they love Beets, and take EVEYR SINGLE Beet in my garden!!!

    I might even start pulling up some of my veggies (laced with poison) and putting down their holes .....

  • kasha77

    I didn't take time to read all of these posts. When you say moles and gophers, do you mean moles and voles? Voles tunnel under plants and eat their roots. They love hostas also. When they tunnel up to the surface, they leave a perfectly round hole. I have been using pelleted rat poison and it works like a charm! It's called Rozol, by Lipha Tech. I know an Iris farmer who introduced me to it. The varmints eat it, then pull the dirt back in on itself, and dies inside their tunnel. Simple. I hope many of you will find relief in using it like I have!

  • GrahamBuck

    Veggies laced with poison sounds like an interesting plan! I found a chart with loads of different types of poison compared, which you might find useful. It looks like poison is the way to go.

  • quone

    I read all the gopher threads I could find after they started tearing up our lawn. I started with Juicy Fruit, which they simply pushed back out, then went on to poison pellets, then gas. Nothing worked. I didn't want to do the traps you have to bury because that would require digging up even more lawn, and it seemed like it wouldn't be a sure thing--you have to use 2 in each tunnel, sometimes they pack dirt in them, etc.

    Then I found a message board talking about gopher wire vs. hardware cloth, and there was mention of Cinch Traps. You have to buy them online, but it was worth it. No extra digging, you just put them down the hole and when they come to block up the opening, BAM! I caught 6 in as many days and I'm ecstatic!

  • scorpman1

    poisons don't pick and chose what they kill and when eaten don't stop there they kill whatever eats the item that ate the poison like owls and other birds of pray so please don't use them. moles and voles are telling you that you have a bigger issue going on in your yard, grubs and other lawn pests or you have a lot of earthworms, so get rid of the food and they will move on this can be done with a ground type grub killer or nematodes. gophers and groundhogs love to eat the same veggies we do so if you have a garden use fencing both around and under to keep them from tunneling under. again remove or limit their food and they too will move on. there is also a product call shake away that uses fox urine which uses their natural prediator fear to chase them away. there are also other natural way to chase these away, humans use way too many bug sprays and poisons without looking at the effects we are having on all the other animals and bugs that we do need. use natural preditors bugs instead of sprays.
    I for one enjoy the groundhog that lives in my yard, it lives under my shed and even though it has eaten my pumpkins and sunflowers I planted I can not be mad she is just being a groundhog. she helps me clean up the apples that fall from my tree, she keeps the skunk out of my yard as the spot where my fence does not quit hit the ground is at her hole and she is not too happy for the visit and with having dog to let out for the bathroom at night not running into a skunk for me or my dogs is fine by me.

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