Anyone who has ever seen the movie Caddyshack knows the cute fuzzy little gopher that was the real star of the show. While the movie gopher might be hilarious to watch, the ones that dig their way under your lawn certainly are not. A single gopher can cause an amazing amount of damage to your lawn in a very short period of time.
Introducing the Real Gophers
Gophers are by nature herbivores and prefer to dine on vegetables. However, their favorite snacks are dandelions and alfalfa. There are some who also like to eat tree roots. While gophers might be cute to look at, the only way to stop them from destroying your lawn and garden is to hire a professional gopher removal service.
There are five species of gopher in the California area:
The Botta’s Pocket Gopher: this is the most common gopher found in California. This variety of gopher can also be found in parts of Nevada and Arizona. You will almost never see this 6-inch long gopher above ground, but if you see horseshoe-shaped mounds in your lawn, chances are good you have an infestation.
The Northern Pocket Gopher: These are the most common gophers found in northern California as they prefer the grasslands found here. They prefer to eat the roots of larger crops (killing them in the process) than on lawns and home gardens.
Western Pocket Gopher: This one is also common in northern California and further up into the Pacific Northwest. Due to a heavy decline in the population of this species, they are protected. You should never try to kill or remove them on your own, you must call a professional. Their job is to safely remove the gophers and take them far away to a safe area.
Mountain Pocket Gopher: These gophers are typically found high up in the mountains at altitudes of 5,000 feet and above. While they have been known to destroy gardens and lawns, they also help by aerating the soil. They love to live in meadows and out on the plains but are particularly fond of forests of pine, fir, and spruce.
The Townsend’s Pocket Gopher: If you happen to live in a desert area, your lawn could be damaged by this type of gopher. However, they tend to burrow deep into the ground and prefer a diet of sagebrush.
Common Signs You Have a Gopher Infestation
Horseshoe-shaped mounds of soil: These occur as the gopher heads to the surface. They do so at an angle and push the dirt in front of them. When they go back down, they close the end of the tunnel with soil that forms a plug as it is pulled in.
Holes in the ground: Gophers will dig “feed holes” that allow them to reach out and grab any vegetation and its roots.
Damaged roots: Since roots are one of a gopher’s favorite snacks, especially those of trees and vegetables, you may find freshly planted trees falling over or dead vegetation. The damage to their roots should be obvious.
Tunnels and more tunnels: The only way to find their tunnels is to actually dig down into the ground. If you find mounds or holes, these would be a good place to start your search.
If you find signs of gophers, the best thing you can do is contact a professional gopher removal service. They can remove them safely for you and show you what, if anything, can be done to keep them out of your yard.