Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gophers: Can't Live With 'em, Can't Kill 'em...Oh, Wait...

...yes, you can.  And, here's how.

I had me, wait for it...three gophers at once this spring.  I have no idea if gophers are like birds and only spawn a certain time of the year, but it certainly seems that way.  Anyway, I had one in three of the four corners of the yard.  The trap I use is a cinch trap.  Works like a charm.  I nailed the first two in the same day.  Set the trap in the front about 11 am then went back out around 2 pm to a varmint.  Moved the trap to the other side of the yard then went back out around 6 and got a second.  Supremely easy.  Here's the third.  And, don't panic, there aren't any pictures of dead animals.

Here's the utensils.  Cinch trap is second from the right.  Gloves are for the fact that the trap is a bugger to set.  The trowel and weed puller are for finding the holes.  Got it all together?  Good, off we go.

Below are the telltale signs of gopher problems.  Mounds of dirt.  That, you didn't make.  Now, if you have kids it's entirely possibly random mounds of dirt could be their doing.  In which case, flatten out the mound and come back the next day to see if it or any others have appeared.

This particular hole was on the side of a hill, which I found makes it extremely difficult to dig out as the hole wants to collapse.  As it's hard to tell which direction the tunnel goes, I start poking the weed puller into the dirt until I can find which way it's running.  It's pretty easy to tell, as you can see, the puller goes in right up to the handle when you've found the tunnel.

Using the trowel dig it out.  I don't have any pictures of that, as I was digging and am not talented enough to photograph myself digging.

When you're done, the hole should look like the above.  Stick the weed puller back down in there to make sure it's a tunnel and not just a deep hole.

When that's done, set the trap.  There are instructions that come with it, so I won't get into that here.  I will point out that step one is to put on gloves.  Put.  Them.  On.  The spring mechanism is strong and when you get your finger trapped in a sprung trap it hurts like hell.  Hurts more like purgatory with the gloves, so wear those.  If you have gauntlets, more power to you.  Now, from the above picture you get an idea on how it works.  There is a small trigger that the vermin's nose hits which springs the trap and "cinch's" (get it?) it's neck in the end that's laying on the trowel.

Then it's quite simple.  Stick the business end of the trap in the hole.  And, you're done.  One thing to consider, though.  The hole needs to be big enough for the trap to actually be able to close.  Otherwise, it gets hung up on the dirt and the little bastard gets away.  If it's difficult to put into the hole, use your trowel to widen the hole.  Don't dig, just stick the trowel in there and pry on all sides until the hold is wide enough.

As you can see, I speak from experience.  First attempt the hole was too small.  Trap got hung up.  The little terrorist then moved into the lawn, so I had to have a second go.  I'm not sure what happened with the second go, but...

...I needed a third go.  That was the charm.

The trap is reusable and runs about $15 USD.  To get the gopher out, just start to reset the trap and it will fall right out.  Be sure you're above whatever you want to dispose it in before doing this, though.

And, there you.  If you're from, put my check in the mail.


  1. Where's the pics of the dead bastard? This is hardly educational without them? Did you dress them up and have a funeral?

    1. IG, I'm trying to keep this a family site. But, don't you worry, I mounted their little gopher heads on spikes and put them on the fence right above a sign that says, "Abandon all faith, all ye who enter here."

  2. Haha! When we did our gopher post last year we were praising cinch traps check though, darn it ;) When your trap is set, do you adjust the sensitivity? We were taught that when placing the trap in the hole, you push it in as far as it will go, then pull back an inch or two (so the claws aren't sitting at the bottom of the hole). Then, that paperclip looking piece that holds the trap set should be pushed back up. Not enough that the trap springs, but just enough to hold it. This makes the trap more sensitive to disturbance by the gopher. Before we figured that out, we had too many gophers shoving dirt into the trap ;) Happy rodent catching! I have two traps I need to check before it gets dark!

    1. Curbstone, yes I do set it back so only the slightest touch will set it off. I learned the hard way to do that AFTER you put it in the hole, otherwise, the force of putting it in the hole will set it off and usually force me to crap myself.

      And, I think I may need to get another trap, as well. We're being overrun by the varmints! I have to let one live while the trap is used somewhere else!

  3. Wow, that's dedication :-) I have a few in my garden, the little suckers leave mounds all over the place, which is disturbing. Between that and the neighbors assorted cats using it as a kitty litter tray, I would have my hands full if I tried to rout all the invaders. I did read in a book once that if you half plant an empty wine bottles strategically in the ground, the wind blows across their tops and the noise scares invaders of all kinds away. No idea if there's truth in it though! (P.S. Thanks for not posting any picks of dead animals for us tender hearted readers :-)

    1. Thanks cakesandshakes, I hadn't heard that one. I have tried a device that looked like a vibrator you put into the ground with batteries and it supposedly scared the critters off. My gophers buried it. Probably hooked their tv's into the battery supply, as well.

  4. Ha-ha, now, expect some animal lovers to scold you!
    I heard about empty beer cans placed on metal sticks.
    P.S. Thanks for your comment - I opened a treasure chest only for you, only for today. Take whatever you can!

    1. Thank you, Tatyana, I only stole the one. Don't want to be a glutton. Plus, my site doesn't have the nifty security yours does. I can always go peruse your archives over there. Whice I've done.