FAQs About Trapping

FAQs About Trapping

  1. I have tried everything: pellets, poison grain, gas canisters, sonic emitters vibrators. Nothing has worked. What am I
    doing wrong?
  2. How does the GopherGoner™ trap work to eliminate moles and gophers?
  3. Where do I set the traps for a mole? Where do I set the traps for a gopher?
  4. How can I tell if the mound of a mole is fresh? How do I tell if the surface tunneling created by a mole is fresh? How do I tell if the gopher mound or feed hole is fresh?
  5. If I catch the mole or gopher, won’t another animal take its place?
  6. Once I set the traps, how long should it take to catch a mole or gopher?
  7. When is the best time to trap a mole or a gopher?
  8. Can you tell how big the mole or gopher by the size of the mound?
  9. How can I tell how many moles or gophers I have on my property?
  10. Are there any natural remedies that will it keep gophers out of my lawn, vineyard, orchard, garden and away from my plants?
  11. Does erecting a Barn Owl box really help to rid an area of gopher?
  12. What if I decide not to get rid of the moles and gophers?
  13. How can I protect my underground cable & irrigation lines from gopher damage?

I have tried everything: pellets, poison grain, gas canisters, sonic emitters and vibrators. Nothing has worked. What am I doing wrong?

There are several things you may be doing wrong. Most likely, you not have identified your pest correctly. It is important to distinguish between mole, gopher, (and possibly vole) activity. You will not be successful using our traps to control voles. When trapping moles and gophers, the size of the trap and trapping methods are different. Moles and gophers share only a few characteristics: both are burrowing animals and seal their tunnels, and both are territorial and anti-social. To the novice, these characteristics may seem negligible, but understanding each animal’s habits explain the very different evidence the two animals leave behind.

Mole and gopher activity above ground (and also below the ground) is very different. Let’s discuss the evidence you can see above ground. A gopher creates crescent shaped mounds with a distinctive plug at the top of the crescent. The mound is evidence of excavating underground tunnels. As the gopher excavates, it must dump the soil it is excavating underground…above the ground. A gopher also creates 2-3 inch holes and plugs them immediately. These small plugged holes are called feedholes. The gopher surfaces only to feed around the opening it created. Please refer to the photos: FAQs About Identifying Gophers and Moles, Questions #3: How do I know if I have a gopher? There you will find photos of fresh feed holes and the crescent shaped mound.

A gopher is a rodent and strictly an herbivore. A gopher chews off plant material from above and below the ground resulting in dead and dying plants. A gopher stuffs the plant material into its cheek pouches, and carries the roots, tubers, and bulbs down to a food cache deep in its tunnel system where it lives the majority of its life. The food cache is cool and the plant material will not rot; much like our great-grand parent stored carrots, cabbage and other vegetables in a cellar during the fall and winter months. A gopher maintains sophisticated system of tunnels and caches for food storage, nesting, resting, and defecation. Each day, week, month, and year, it extends its territory vertically and horizontally, but its tunneling becomes denser rather than vast, unlike a mole. A 4-5 year old mature male gopher will control 2000 square feet (40 sq ft x 50 sq ft in open spaces). Researchers report that male gophers create more mounds than females. The belief is that males are creating tunnels in search of females.

A mole is not a rodent. It is an insectivore, related to a bat or a shrew. Its diet consists of earthworms, grubs, beetles, ants, pollywogs, slugs, any insect or larva found underground, and on occasion, baby mice. Look for evidence of round, symmetrical, conical mounds and surface tunneling. Surface tunnels are created by the mole as it swims a few inches under the surface of the soil. Both gophers and mole mounds represent underground tunnel excavation.

There are two kinds of surface tunneling: foraging lines and causeways. Foraging lines indicate the mole is literally plucking the insects just underneath the surface and feeding. Foraging lines are usually found in lawns and landscape beds. The foraging lines twist and turn like a snake. Moles do not return to foraging lines with any consistency and these tunnels are not optimal places to set a trap. To find out if a foraging line is fresh, flatten the tunnel with your shoes or a shovel and continue to recheck the surface tunnel for repairs by the mole.
Causeways are also surface tunnels, but they are generally straighter than a foraging line and follow manmade boarders such as sidewalks, driveways, bender boards, stone boarders, flagstones, and patios. To check if the causeway is fresh, slightly open the causeway tunnel with a screwdriver or small spoon. Check the opening for several days. If the opening has been repaired, the evidence supports that the mole is in the vicinity. Fresh mounds are the best location to set a trap. A fresh mound is evidence the mole is excavating tunnels as part of its permanent burrow. If the mole is in the vicinity of the set traps, it will detect the draft of air and come to the trap.

Be aware of the evidence of both mole mounding and both types of surface tunneling. Look for evidence of surface tunneling in moist areas because insects cannot survive in dry soil. Earthworms are the favorite diet of moles. Heavily fertilized and watered areas such as lawns attract earthworms. In the summer, as the soil dries, the insects are drawn to lawns, emitters, under patios, sidewalks, flagstones; wherever there is moisture. A mole cannot store its food and cannot store body fat. Thus a mole must extend its territory 10x the distance of a gopher to feed.

Moles are also territorial and anti-social, but not to the extent of a gopher. During mating season, moles can be found sharing one tunnel system. Also, moles have been known to share common causeways, but they leave a scent at the causeways to warn other moles of their presence. It is believed that moles emit a sonic pitch that resonates inside the tunnel to communicate with other moles.

After taking the time to read this answer, you can understand the importance of identifying your pest before you purchase traps or use other abatement options.

There are several poison abatement options. Some are more effective than others.

  • Registered toxicants include Strychnine alkaloid and in some states, Chlorophacinone.
  • Fumigants include aluminum phosphide and gas cartridges.There are no registered repellents that have proven scientific results. The plants known as caper spurge, gopher purge, or mole plant (Euphorbia lathyrus) and the castor-oil plant (Ricinus communis) have been sold as gopher repellents, but there is no evidence that they actually repell moles and gophers. We do not recommend them since they are both poisonous to humans and pets.
  • Ultrasonic and vibration devices are ineffective.
  • Car exhaust is dangerous and illegal in some states. In addition, the carbon monoxide levels have been substantially reduced in gasolline due to environmental regulations.
  • Drowning is impractical.
  • Shooting is not advised.
  • All other methods, none tested have proven effective.

Read more at the


University of California website FQA #989

Trapping guarantees that the culprit is physically identified and removed, but don’t take our word. We encourage you to read about each option. Go to the Agricultural Extension Programs sponsored by several universities. Seek out the opinions of experts who are not paid to sell you something.

You can read more about control options and their effectiveness at the these


How does the GopherGoner™ trap work?

Moles and gophers behave predictably 90% of the time. The GopherGoner™ trap operates on two very predictable mole and gopher habits. 1) Moles and gophers instinctively close all open tunnels to protect their scent from leaving the tunnel and to prevent predators and water from entering their tunnels, and 2) Moles and gophers are meticulous about keeping their runways clear. As a mole or gopher checks its tunnel openings for weakness in its defense, it will instinctively plug any opening and will be caught in the trap. When a foreign object is detected in a tunnel, the mole and gopher instinctively want to remove it. The trap represents a foreign object. The mole and gopher will attempt to remove the trap, hit the trigger and get caught in the trap. Set gopher traps should be checked every four to eight hours. Set mole traps should be checked once or twice a day.

The GopherGoner™ trap is a modification of the 100 year old Cinch trap, approved by the U.S. Forest Service for gopher control and is the best trap on the market for the control of moles and gophers. Once you start trapping, you need to follow through. Continue to set traps in all fresh activity in order to reach your goal of total control. Repopulation will occur and successful trapping depends upon whether you trap out every last mole and/or gopher.

Trapping is a lot like fishing. It is possible to catch a fish by putting a worm on a hook and hoping a fish finds it, but if you know exactly where to cast your line, you will have much better results. Here is another analogy to ponder: We have a piano in the house, but no one can play it. Don’t blame the traps if you don’t take the time to learn about how to trap these pests. Learn how the professionals trap, and stay with a consistent trapping program.

You can learn more about how our traps work on our

Gopher Goner Trap page.


Where do I set the traps?

Traps Set Without Digging Out the Mound
Perfect 2-way Mole Set in Cut Out Turf
Mole Damage in Lawn
Mole Mounds in Yard
Click on photos to enlarge.

Where you set traps are different for moles and gophers. First, let’s discuss setting traps on moles.
We recommend watching the GopherGoner DVD. An entire chapter is devoted to setting traps on moles. Deeper/permanent tunnels, located 12-18 inches under fresh mole mounds will be the most productive locations to set traps since these tunnels may be used several times during the week. If no mounds exsist, the next best place to set a trap is in a causeway surface tunnel. Look for a surface tunnel (causeway) that follows a generally straight line or that appears to connect two mole mounds or two feeding areas. A causeway often will follow fence rows, foundations, landscape timbers, or some other permanent manmade border. Moles use these tunnels more often than winding foraging tunnels. To check on which surface tunnels moles are using, slightly open the tunnel and mark it with a flag. Return the next day, if the tunnel has been repaired or there is fresh activity, set two traps in opposite directions.

Mole mounds must be fresh or it is a waste of time setting traps there. Once you have identified a fresh mole mound, level the mound by fanning the dirt with a shovel. Use the 14 x 14-inch template, as described in the GopherGoner™ DVD, dig out the turf at an angle on all 4-sides, and pop out the square. Next, using the digging tool, locate the soil plug and dig it out until you reach the open tunnel. The plug is usually 2 to 3 inches thick. You will feel a definite release when as you clear the plug and enter the tunnel. Once inside the tunnel, it is extremely important to probe inside the tunnel with the digging tool to determine if that tunnel forks and has two runs. You will need to set a trap in each tunnel. Avoid setting traps in any tunnels that fork before the trigger of the trap. Backfilled traps are an indication of improperly placed traps. There will always be at least two tunnels under a mound. Moles dig up and straight down. However, there may be three tunnels under the mound, or God forbid, four tunnels. If even one of the tunnels fork, you must either dig back to the source of the fork and set a trap in both runs, or fill that particular mound back in and locate another mound, repeating the procedure. Moles are difficult to trap, but not impossible.

Moles are active both night and daylight hours, so check your traps at least once a day. Some mole tunnels are only used on occasion and the mole rarely returns to them. If the trap is set and not sprung in 3-4 days, move to a new location. If the traps are filled with soil or if the trap is sprung, but the mole is not caught, clean out the tunnels and reset the traps. Also, set the trap a little deeper. Using several traps in the area will usually increase your chances of trapping a mole in 24 to 48 hours.

Regarding where to set traps on a gopher, as we mentioned earlier, we recommend watching the GopherGoner™ DVD. Three chapters are devoted to setting traps on gophers in gardens, open spaces and lineal spaces such as vineyards. We also send a brochure with each order explaining how to use the gopher digging tool in conjunction with the trap. Always set a trap in a fresh mound. We try to set 2-traps on a gopher system. We recommend locating two fresh mounds at opposite ends of a series of mounds. The purpose of setting two traps at opposite ends is to create a strong draft that the gopher will detect. If the gopher springs the first trap or backfills the trap, it will be instinctively drawn to plug the opening at the second trap. However, it is not necessary to set more than two traps. Remember, the purpose of setting only two traps is to create a draft. It is not necessary to create a whirlwind if you get our drift.

The markings on the digging tool indicate where the jaws are resting inside the tunnel. The instructions for preparing the tunnel and setting the trap are similar to the mole. Use the tool to probe for forks or second runs. Never set a trap in a tunnel that forks before the jaws. The gopher will inevitably enter the tunnel you have prepared at the trigger instead of the jaws of the trap and you will miss the opportunity to trap it. Sprung and backfilled traps are an indication of an improperly set trap. We include a paper listing common mistakes setting the GopherGoner trap with every order. Finding your trap buried in soil is disappointing, but a sprung, empty trap is worse. The sound of a sprung trap will create a “trap shy” animal. If sprung, empty traps occur too often, you may have to pull the traps and wait a few days for the animal to forget about the trap.



How can I tell if the mound or feed hole is fresh?

The best time to look for fresh activity is early morning. The fresh dirt will be darker and wetter because the sun has not bleached the soil. The soil will be fluffy and loose, free of footprints, leaves and grass. Sprinklers and rain will not have pounded down the dirt.

Unfortunately, moles are not so cooperative when you open their tunnels or level their mounds. A mole tunnel system is much larger and its inhabitant are different from a gopher. A mole may not return for 2-3 days, or it may have sealed off the tunnel portion you opened and left for an indefinite period of time. To check for the freshest mole mounds, fan all the dirt from the mound excavated by the mole with a shovel evenly across the lawn. This prevents the sod underneath from smothering and dirt from dulling machinery. Then recheck the leveled areas for several days to see whether the mole has been active. It is a waste of time to set a trap in a mold mound or a gopher mound or feedhole that is old.

Fresh gopher feed holes will also have dark, fluffy dirt plugging the hole. If you open a very fresh gopher plug and watch for a few minutes, a gopher will sense a draft and come to the opening to investigate. You will see the gopher plug up the opening again if you wait long enough. When this occurs, it is the best opportunity to set a trap.

Fresh versus old gopher mound
There is a fresh gopher plug<br />
Fresh gopher feed hole
Old gopher mound with fresh plug
Fresh series of mole mounds
FreshMole Mound
Old mole mound do not set here
Fresh mole activity fluffy dirt
Click on photos to enlarge.



If I catch the mole or gopher, won’t another take its place?

Yes. Once the tunnels are established, another mole or gopher will move in eventually. Experts call this re-population. No matter what abatement method you use, there is no permanent fix to the problem, especially if your property adjoins woodlands or open space. Trapping is the only effective way to keep up with a mole or gopher problem. Other animals such as voles, will take over an abandoned mole or gopher tunnel. Also, the nursing female of both moles and gophers will evict the pups from the nest as soon they are weaned. Her actions force the pups to travel overland in search of their own territory.

Construction and heavy machinery can cause moles and gophers to seek new territory. As experienced mole and gopher trappers, we recommend a consistent trapping maintenance program. We return routinely to the same customer once, twice, sometimes three times a year. The alternative is to learn how to trap and maintain your property.



Once I set the traps, how long should it take to catch a mole or gopher?

Moles are far more difficult to catch than gopher. Since moles are such voracious diggers and eaters, their tunneling system is very extensive. Moles cannot be depended upon to return to the same surface tunnel with any accuracy. They can dig to your neighbor’s property overnight and not return to your property to feed for a month or more. Deeper/permanent tunnels, located under fresh mounds will be the most productive trap locations since these tunnels may be used several times daily.

Gophers are much easier to trap than moles. You should be able to trap a gopher in 24-hours or less, but we caution you to recheck the area for another day or two. If you return to the area where you successfully trapped a gopher and there is fresh activity, you know there is still a mate, or worse, a bunch of pups running around down there. Set a second trap, if the trap remains empty after two nights, the tunnel is empty. Trap out every gopher; not just the easy ones.

Frequently, we have opened a fresh gopher mound or feedhole, set a trap and caught the gopher within a few minutes while the customer is standing there. When this happens, the customer gets the impression that trapping is easy. We attribute this to luck, not skill. Seriously, Gregg’s biggest catch in one day was 97 gophers. When we trap gophers on small acreage, we leave the traps in the ground overnight, return the next day, reset any traps that were sprung or backfilled and look for fresh activity to set more traps. When we trap on a larger scale, we start in one area, leave them in the ground over night and work our way across the property continually rotating the traps until the entire property has been covered for at least a 24-hour period with traps in the ground. You have the advantage of leaving the traps in the ground even longer if you learn to trap.



When is the best time to trap?

The best time to trap is when moles and gophers are most active. Both animals are sensitive to vibrations and prefer to move about in early morning and later in the evening. Moles and gophers avoid water and will plug up their burrows during periods of rain. If you are lucky, get traps set in the ground before the rain and leave the tunnels open while it rains. Moles and gophers are more active on days that are overcast or foggy. This may have to do with the barometer, but it is a good time to set traps as well.

Seasonally, both moles and gophers are most active in spring and fall months. Mating season occurs in the spring for moles and gophers and again the fall for some species of gophers. Late summer, early fall also marks the time both mole and gopher pups are ejected from the nest and must travel on the surface to establish new territory of their own. Moles and gophers do not hibernate and remain active all year. Moles cannot store body fat or store food and must continue to expand their system in search of food supplies. Gophers dig food caches and store food year round.



Can you tell how big the mole or gopher is by the size of the mound?

No. As moles and gophers dig, the excavated dirt must be dumped somewhere above ground. Large mounds indicate that the animal is digging deep tunnels and a sophisticated system.

Regarding gopher mounds, it is more important to pay attention to the diameter of a tunnel rather than the size of the mound. Generally, larger gophers live in larger tunnels. If I find a small tunnel close to an obviously larger tunnel, I suspect there might be two gophers living in two separate systems. However, it is possible for a young gopher to move into an abandoned tunnel system previously controlled by a large adult male. When that happens, it takes a little more investigation, but we catch him eventually.

Mole mound with trap to show scale<br />
Small mole mound
Gopher mound with trap to show scale
Fresh gopher mound
Click on photos to enlarge.



How can I tell how many gophers and/or moles I have on my property?

Population densities for moles are estimated to average 2 per acre in woodlands and higher in residential areas. Densities for gophers can reach 60-70 per acre depending upon soil conditions and food supply.

95% of the time, we trap only 1 mole when we are called to a job. That being said, we have trapped three moles overnight in a small backyard that bordered a creek. Two of the moles were trapped in tunnels a foot apart. This leads us to believe that in some situations, tunnels can be used by several moles at one time. We even suspect that moles and gophers share common causeways because we have trapped a mole in a gopher tunnel on occasion. We have not found a method of estimating mole infestation.

Moles mate once a year, generally, in the springtime. Generally, gophers mate at least in the spring and fall, but can mate more often if the conditions are favorable. It is not uncommon for us to trap two animals in nearby tunnels during the spring months. We attribute our good fortune to mole and gopher mating habits. In the spring months, we always check for nursing female gophers because pups are surely close by.

nursing female

We have read that male and female moles may share tunnels while the female is nursing the pups. We don’t know if this is true, but we do trap a lot more moles and gophers in close proximity during the spring and fall months.

As commercial trappers, we have a trained eye to distinguish one gopher system from another. The same is true with mole systems. With practice, you will learn to spot the usually lineal group of crescent shaped mounds, in the case of a gopher, or a series of symmetrical, conical shaped mounds in the case of a mole. A simple way to test if the either animal is present is to use a shovel to level all the mounds, check the next day. Also, if you have more than one area of fresh activity the next day, there is a possibility you have more than one gopher. If you have only one area active at a time, you may have only one gopher.

On large, commercial gopher trapping jobs, we routinely trap 50-60 gophers out of the ground during a 6-hour period. We even get higher catches in some areas where both soil conditions and food supplies are good. Gregg has trapped 4,500 gophers on a 16-acre vineyard over the period of 4-years! His record is 92 in one day at a school athletic field.

We recommend trying this method. It will save the smothering plants underneath the mounds and your mower blades from breaking. Level the mounds with a shovel and return the next day. In the case of gophers, you can determine how many areas are active at the same time by watching for new mounds that are created.

There is no rock solid way of determining exactly how many moles or gophers there are per acre until the pest is trapped and there is no more activity. We always leave the tunnel open a few days after we’ve trapped a mole or gopher checking if the tunnel is plugged. If there is no activity, we know there was only one mole or one gopher in that system.

These are good reasons to trap all the moles and gophers in the area, not just the easy ones. Trapping is the only effective method of control, but you must empty all the tunnels! Then, “un-invite” neighboring moles and gophers from entering abandoned tunnels by stuffing the trapped animals back into the tunnels and seal the tunnel. The stench from the decaying carcass will ward off others for awhile.



Are there any natural remedies that will it keep moles and gophers out of my yard and away from my plants?

Most people over water their yards and they wonder why they have a mole and their neighbors don’t. Moles are a water animal. They’re attracted to the wet soil. It’s easier to dig. If soggy lawns are attracting moles, change your irrigation system to water deeply and less often; most lawns need no more than an inch a week.

For large, open gardens, we recommend Marigolds; they really do help. Marigolds and horseraddish. Both plants don’t have a pleasant odor; we can all agree on that, but have you ever tried tasting the stem or root of a marigold? Don’t. You’ll become extremely sick. Marigolds make a difference with gophers and also with the bugs. Remember, moles follow bugs, so Marigolds are a good deterrent for moles too. You can use tall, giant and even small Marigolds. Mix them up and when they die, take off the dead heads and replant, you’ve just doubled, if not quadrupled your investment.

Underground fencing might be justified for valuable ornamental shrubs, landscape trees and precious gardens. To protect existing plantings, bury 3-foot wide ½ inch hardware cloth vertically. Extended at about 6-inches of the hardware cloth above ground bent slightly away from your property to deter moles and gophers from traveling overland, and another 6-inches underground bent away from your planting area, so as they dig downward, they will hit the hardware cloth and be forced away from your planting area. Lap the hardware cloth about 3-inches and stitch the laps with wire or the pests will eventually get through the laps.

It is possible to protect small areas of raised gardens by attaching the hardware cloth to the sides of wooden boards, but again stitch the laps of hardware cloth, or the animals will find their way inside. If you use wire when lying down sod, always spread 4 to 6-inches of topsoil before laying the sod to prevent moles from swimming between the sod and the wire. Once the wire is in place, it is impossible to set a trap through the wire.

Personally, we don’t invest in wire baskets. We find the wire baskets cause the same problems as hardware cloth. However, if you decide to invest in wire baskets for individual plants, we recommend using stainless steel wire baskets rather than galvanized wire baskets. If your water contains a large amount of iron and your soil is acidic, the galvanized baskets erode in 3-4 years and gopher will eat thru the wire.

The only tried and true method is trapping. It is hard work and time consuming, but you will know for sure that your pest is identified and gone.



I own 25 acres of quality wine grapes. Does erecting a Barn Owl box really help to rid an area of GOPHERS?

Yes and maybe. People may hope that natural predators will help, but trapping is the only effective method of mole and gopher control.

We definitely encourage customers to attract Barn owls, but if they spot fresh gopher activity and don’t take action with traps immediately, you are asking for trouble. A single GOPHER is capable of causing a lot of damage quickly. You cannot afford to wait for an owl to arrive. Effective action must be taken immediately. Set traps!

The process of coaxing a Barn owl to your box has several stages and requires attention and commitment. The most important factors installing these boxes are heat barriers and placement. On an overage only about fifty percent of the nesting boxes you place will be inhabited by owls so it is important to place them properly, protect the boxes from extreme heat, and erect more than you think you will need. Here are some tips for placing successful nesting boxes for Barn Owls.

  • The nest boxes should be at least 10 feet off the ground and near pasture and barn areas.
  • The boxes can be located on posts, trees, or on barns.
  • Keep the entrance to the nesting box away from the prevailing winds in your area and in natural shade if possible.
  • Putting the boxes together in pairs can encourage more brooding.
  • Make sure the boxes are in a safe place where they will not be interfered with.
  • The box should be lined with about 2 inches of wood shavings to make a soft place for the eggs.
  • The boxes must be cleaned regularly.

Fortunately, barn owls are non-territorial, so the number of owls that can be attracted to your property is limited only by the availability of nesting sites and available prey. Barn owls also have huge appetites. A family of barn owls can eat over 3,000 rodents in a four-month breeding cycle.

Unfortunately, although barn owls prey on gophers, they have a habit of hunting over large areas, often far from their nesting boxes, and they tend to hunt areas where the hunting is easy pickings, which can tend to make them unreliable for gopher control. Since Great Horned Owls are predators of Barn owls it is best not to put nesting boxes up where Great Horned Owls are known to live. If you have Barn Owls or any birds of prey on your property then they are probably controlling the rodents for you and it is especially important not to use poison.

Close up shot of owl box<br />
Owl box in a new vineyard
Two owl boxes in an olive orchard
The placement of owl box is very important
Click on photos to enlarge.



What if I decide not to get rid of the moles and gophers?

If moles are not damaging your lawn, your soil will be well aerated. The earthworm population may be smaller, but so will the less desirable insects. We always prefer to leave these amazing animals alone.

Gophers are another story. We can’t find many good things to say about those rodents except that people in some countries eat gopher. You might try marinating them in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, roll them in seasoned breadcrumbs and pair them with a Pinot.

Seriously, gophers are responsible for chewing through irrigation lines and utility cables. Gophers burrow under foundations, septic systems, swimming pools, and ditch banks. Gophers can ruin the integrity of those structures. Gophers (and moles) digging under driveways and sidewalks create tunnels that easily collapse under the weight of trucks and heavy machinery resulting in cracks in the asphalt and cement. Soil brought to the surface by gophers have a greater chance of erosion by rainwater. Rainwater can enter a tunneling system and create one, large surge of water as it finds an exit point. If this surge of water resulting in serious erosion is particularly concerning for vineyards and orchards planted on steep hillsides. One gopher can destroy a 4-year old grape vine overnight. The loss to the grower is estimated at $400. Gophers reduce the productivity of alfalfa fields and native grasslands by 20 to 50 percent. In addition to their mounds smothering crops, farmers must raise the sickle bar when harvesting hay or alfalfa to avoid dulling and breaking the teeth on the bar. A single gopher can destroy an entire garden or landscape if ignored.

The major damage created my a mole is on the surface, particularly in golf courses and manicured lawns. Surface tunneling causes roots to separate from the soil, killing grass and leaving twisted yellow snaking surface tunnels in an otherwise green lawn. The surface tunnels interfere with mowing. If surface tunnels are not rolled or somehow flattened, the exposed soil along the tunnel ridges become “seedbeds” for blowing weed seeds to propagate. We find crab grass and nimble weed often growing along side mole surface tunneling. Bare spots in the grass from mole mounding will also cultivate weed growth.

In neglected orchards, the ground can be infiltrated with tunnels and mounding around tree roots. The mounds of fluffy dirt are the result of soil dug in and around the roots of the tree. Some of the deep/permanent tunnels will eventually work around the root ball of the tree and allow the mole access to the all the organisms living within the root ball throughout the year, since many insects and their larvae live off the root moisture and sap year round.

Since moles are constantly adding on new tunnels to the old system year after year, counting the number of MOLE mounds or ridges, especially during the active spring and fall months, is not a reliable way of taking mole census. A single mole can tunnel 50-60 yards in one night or construct 50 to 100 mounds in a month.

If you must get rid of a mole, trapping is the only way you can be sure you have the culprit. We encourage you to set traps. Check them twice a day. If nothing happens in a day or two, pull them, but leave the tunnel open. Check the open tunnels for fresh activity. If the tunnels stay open, he’s gone. Don’t waste your time setting traps there. Look around. Take a peek over your neighbor’s fence. Talk to your neighbors. A mole’s territory is measured in acres so almost any mole problem is usually a part of a larger mole problem.

Gophers stay in once place, rigorously defending his territory. Trapping does not solve your mole or gopher problem overnight. Trapping is labor intensive, but the Gopher Goner trap is the most effective method of eliminating moles and gopher with the least intrusion and without poisons.

Compromised Hillside
Damage to rose rootballs
Gopher dug through blacktop
Gopher damage to ornamental tree
Click on photos to enlarge.



How can I protect my underground cable & irrigation lines?

Buried utility cables and irrigation lines can be protected by enclosing them in various materials, as long as the outside diameter exceeds 1.75 inches. Gophers can open their mouths only wide enough to allow about a 1-inch (2.5cm) span between the upper and lower incisors. Buried cables may be protected from gopher damage by surrounding the cable with 6 to 8 inches of coarse gravel. Gophers usually burrow around gravel 1 inch in diameter, whereas smaller pebbles may be pushed to the surface.

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The West Coast is in the heat of MOLE trapping.

February 26th, 2017

All breeds of moles reproduce once a year. February is mating season for the West Coast. Those prope[...]

Mole Activity Identification 101

Mole Activity Identification 101

February 1st, 2017

Mole mounds are circular. The mounds often remind me of a volcano with stubby cigar shaped clods str[...]

Gopher vs. Mole

Gopher vs. Mole

January 11th, 2017

While moles and gophers both live in sealed, underground tunnels, there are clear differences betwee[...]

gopher-goner-medium trap

Medium Traps

The medium trap is what we use 95% of the time trapping a gopher in the Western United States. We recommend setting two traps on 1-gopher system to create a draft. Cinch traps are set from the surface! The cinch trap relies on air and light triggering an alarm with the gopher or mole that their security has been breached. Do not bury a cinch trap!
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gopher-goner-small trap

Small Traps

We use the small trap for trapping a mole. We highly recommend setting traps under a fresh mound, and by “fresh,” we mean 24-36 hours! Beware, there could be 1 or sometimes 2 additional tunnels leading to the mound, so we recommend having 4-small traps when trapping a mole. Occasionally, we will use a small trap for trapping a juvenile gopher during breeding season.
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gopher goner digging tool

Gopher Goner Digging Tool

We designed the 18-inch digging tool to pop the plug in a gopher tunnel, check for forking tunnels, and clearing debris without enlarging the tunnel. The Digging Tool can be used with any manufacturer of trap (Victor Easy Set, Sweeny, Macabee, Gophinator), but we highly recommend using a cinch trap. Whether trapping a gopher or a mole, this tool beats any screwdriver or Hori Hori Garden knife in price and effectiveness.
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