How to Kill Gophers

Gopher Gassers

Small gas producing sticks or flares are lit and placed in the tunnel where they smolder. Seal that opening. Be careful not to extinguish the fuse. Look around for any other exit holes that are leaking fumes and seal those quickly.

The gopher can be killed by either the fumes themselves, or the lack of oxygen. This technique is effective about 50% of the time. You know how averages work. One guy gets lucky 75-90% of the time. The other guy is unlucky in the same proportion.

Best technique with gassers to kill gophers? Use a bunch of them, all in the same application, rather than one a week. If the gopher is not in the tunnel, there is no residual effect. Gophers may be able to smell the fumes from a distance and plug the tunnel. Setting off several flares in multiple locations will increase your odds.

The good news? The ingredients are typically fertilizer elements, so the gassers are safe to use in most locations. Just be cautious using anything that burns, especially in areas with dry grass or brush.

Gopher Poisons

Poison bait is an effective way to kill gophers. It may be the most practical approach if you have large areas that are continually infested. You invest a little time to distribute the bait in the tunnels. It keeps guard till the next invasion comes along. Need to kill gophers? That’s the quick and easy way.
Now for the drawback to quick and easy. The most common poison in gopher bait is strychnine. Nasty stuff. Veterinarians shudder when they receive a sick pet and hear the words “got into some gopher bait.”
There is another type of bait that uses zinc phosphide as the active ingredient. This is not as toxic to pets or predatory animals, but will still kill a gopher with one feeding.

Mouse or rat bait is not typically labeled for use as a gopher killer. It still gets recommended and used that way. Whether or not the gopher eats it, or if it is safe, depends on the variety of bait (and the gopher’s dietary preferences). It can take multiple feedings before it kills any of these rodents. Learn more about how to get rid of gophers by Using Gopher Poisons and Bait.

Gopher Traps

Traps are very effective, but they may be more practical for smaller areas than they would be for acreage. They are less convenient to use than some extermination efforts, but they do offer the satisfaction of knowing when you’ve killed one of the nasty critters.
There are several styles of traps, and the manner in which they are used may depend on whether you plan to use them in the main gopher tunnel, or the exit runway that leads to the mound of dirt above ground. (More discussion on this later.)Whatever type of trap you select, realize that your best success rate comes with placing the trap in the main runway. This is typically 5-10 inches below ground. There is no guarantee that the gopher will reappear at a mound or exit hole if you place the trap at surface level.
The exit tunnel, or lateral runway, is not always evident. Occasionally you will find an open hole at one side of a gopher mound. Usually the gopher will plug this, and you may or may not be able locate and dig out this path. If you can, follow this down to the main tunnel. If it is not obvious, poke a metal rod, like a long screwdriver, into the ground on the flat side of the dirt mound.

The tunnel could be 4-5″ deep, even 10″ or more. It will not be right under the dirt mound. The hole would lead down like an angled ramp. Gradually move away from the mound as you probe in the general area. The probe will push down quickly for two inches when you enter the tunnel. Then dig down with a shovel to get access and see which way the tunnel goes.

So you dig down and find the main tunnel. Do you know what direction the gopher will travel 80% of the time? That’s an easy guess. If you only use one trap, the gopher approaches from the back side. That’s why so many people are unsuccessful when they try to kill gophers with a trap.

Use two traps in one tunnel, pointing in opposite directions. You will have better results this way. If you put one trap in hole A and another trap in hole B, thinking you’ll kill at least one gopher and maybe two, you’ll be very disappointed when the more common result is two empty traps.