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You may remember the cute fuzzy gopher puppet from the movie Caddyshack, but the fact is that gophers are rodents that can be very destructive to your lawn and garden. Just a single gopher can cause tremendous damage to your lawn.

Gophers are more accurately known as pocket gophers. This is due to the fur-lined pockets in their cheeks that they use to carry food. They are herbivores and love to snack on all kinds of vegetables, but particularly alfalfa and dandelions, but some species also devour tree roots and other vegetables.

Gophers are pests, and if you want the damage to your garden, crops or lawn to stop then you call the gopher removal and gopher control experts at Western Exterminator for the right solutions.

Gopher species

The western United States is home to five main species of gopher. They include:

  • Botta's pocket gopher (thomomys bottae) - the most common gopher in the state of California and it can also be found in parts of Nevada and Arizona. It's only about six inches long and will rarely be seen above ground. If you suddenly see horse-shoe shaped mounds of dirt on your lawn you may have these pocket gophers. In Nevada and Arizona this type of gopher is sometimes referred to as the valley pocket gopher.

  • Northern Pocket Gopher (Thomomys talpoides) - a common gopher for northern California. This gopher likes grasslands and will attack larger crops more than gardens and lawns. Northern Pocket Gophers like to dine on roots which will kill crops.

  • Western Pocket Gopher (Thomomys mazama) - another gopher common more to northern California and into the northwestern U.S. This species is now also protected and threatened due to loss of habitat. Don't try to remove this one on your own for that reason.

  • Mountain Pocket Gopher (Thomomys monticola) - you will find this species high above sea level in mountainous areas above 5,000 feet. Although they are known to damage to lawns and gardens, they also provide a vital component to the ecosystem by aerating the soil. The prefer plains and meadows, rocky slopes and pastures. They are particularly fond of forests with spruce, pine and fir trees.

  • Townsend's Pocket Gopher (Thomomys townsendii) - if you live in arid desert areas then you could potentially find lawn damage from this type of gopher. They like to burrow pretty deep and like areas where sagebrush is common. They love to munch on grass.

Gopher signs

Gophers are hard to spot because they spend so much time underground. Often you will not know that you have a gopher problem until you spot the damage. This can mean:

  • Crescent or horseshoe-shaped mounds - a gopher will head to the surface at an angle. When they do this they push the dirt forward and toward the surface and this results in the crescent or horseshoe-shaped mounds. Gophers, when they head back down into the tunnels, will bring dirt in after them to plug up the holes, so you will usually see the plugged holes they leave behind.

  • Holes - gophers burrow to the surface and create "feed holes" to reach vegetation on the surface. These are right in the lawn and not part of a mound and they can vary in size. The gopher only needs to gets its nose and teeth up there to eat vegetation and will often pull vegetation down via the roots through holes, too.

  • Root damage - gophers love to snack on the roots of trees and other vegetation. If that tree you just planted starts leaning and you notice the telltale dirt mounds beneath it, check to see if the roots are still there. If they're not, then you likely have a gopher problem.

  • Tunnels - you'll need to dig below the surface, but if you notice the holes, mounds and root damage then you might want to dig down 6 to 12 inches and see if you can find the tunnels. They run parallel to the surface and will often be one main tunnel and then numerous branching tunnels.

Gopher's begone!

Gophers occur in most areas of the Western United States and are a particular problem in areas such as Novato and Bakersfield.

Our specialists can identify the type of pocket gopher that you have, remove the gophers and offer advice on how to prevent their return.

We offer environmentally responsible pest control, so call us at 800-937-8398 or contact us online to discuss your gopher problems.

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