Finding burrows

Pocket gophers

gopher probe

Gopher probe in action.

To successfully control gophers, the sooner you detect their presence and take control measures the better. Most people control gophers in lawns, gardens, or small orchards by trapping and/or by using poison baits.

Successful trapping or baiting depends on accurately locating the gopher’s main burrow. To locate the burrow, you need to use a gopher probe. Probes are commercially available, or you can construct one from a pipe and metal rod. Probes made from dowels or sticks work in soft soil but are difficult to use in hard or dry soils. An enlarged tip that is wider than the shaft of the probe is an important design feature that increases the ease of locating burrows.

To find burrows, first locate areas of recent gopher activity based on fresh mounds of dark, moist soil. Fresh mounds that are visible aboveground are the plugged openings of lateral tunnels. You can find the main burrow by probing about 8 to 12 inches from the plug side of the mound; it usually is located 6 to 12 inches deep. When the probe penetrates the gopher’s burrow, there will be a sudden, noticeable drop of about 2 inches. You might have to probe repeatedly to locate the gopher’s main burrow, but your skill will improve with experience. Because the gopher might not revisit lateral tunnels, trapping and baiting them is not as successful as in the main burrow.

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