Best Gopher Traps, Baits, and How to Set One

gopher near its burrow hole
Commercial gopher traps are effective in trapping gophers. However, in colder months, gophers may become sluggish and move less. This may make them less likely to traverse through their tunnel system and instead hunker in place, decreasing your catch rate. Therefore, if you want to catch a gopher, the best time to do it is when it's warmer outside.

Gophers are small rodents that love digging burrows and extensive tunnel systems in yards and gardens, damaging crops and destroying landscapes.

Without proper gopher control, your garden can fall into a state of utter destruction. Fortunately, there are ways you can effectively get rid of gophers and protect your property.

Have you noticed brown soil mounds popping up in your yard lately? Are your crops failing to yield as they should? If so, you might in fact be dealing with a gopher infestation.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know about gopher baits, traps, and how to set them up.

Are gopher traps effective?

Yes. Gopher traps are effective at trapping gophers. They work best in warmer weather when gophers are typically more active.

Regardless of the weather, gophers rarely move past their established tunnel systems unless they want to forage for food or find a new place to nest. Putting the trap close to the main tunnel is optimal for the greatest catch rate.

You may have to use a shovel or garden trowel to dig down to the gopher’s tunnel level to place the trap.

Once you’ve set the trap, you can leave the trap for 1 to 2 days before checking it. If there’s no catch, relocate the trap to another part of the garden and try again.

gopher holding flower

What is the best trap for gopher?

Gopher traps are available in a variety of styles and sizes. If you’re looking for the best, here are the best gopher traps to put in a gopher mound.

Here are the most popular and effective gopher traps:

  • Pincer trap
  • Cinch trap
  • Box trap

Cinch Trap

A cinch trap has a metal jaw that snaps shut on the gopher’s neck when triggered, killing it instantly. All the gopher has to do is step on the trigger plate in the trap’s center for it to go off.

This trap has been around for hundreds of years (i.g. Victor traps), making it one of the most tried-and-true gopher traps on the market.

Pincer Trap

A pincer trap also has a metal jaw that snaps shut on the gopher, but it’s slightly different from a cinch trap. For one, you need to bait the pincer trap with food since gophers are attracted to it. Once the gopher takes the bait, the trap will activate and clamp down on the gopher’s body.

Box Trap

A box trap is a choker-style trap that works similarly to a mousetrap. The gopher steps on a trigger plate in a box, pulling a wire noose around the gopher’s neck, choking it to death.

This trap is considered one of the most humane gopher traps since it kills the gopher quickly and doesn’t leave it to suffer.

Any of the three gopher traps will work well in getting rid of gophers. However, the box trap works best if you want to limit access to nontarget animals. The cinch trap is also handy since it does not require any bait to attract a pocket gopher.

How do you make a gopher trap?

To make a DIY live gopher trap, you’ll need the following items:

  • A nylon fishing line
  • A gopher-sized wooden box
  • Cup hook
  • Some form of bait, like a vegetable
  • A drill

To make a gopher trap, follow these steps:

  1. In the wooden box, cut one side to make an opening for the gopher to pass through.
  2. Above the hatch, make a hole where you can attach the fishing line.
  3. Drill a half-inch hole in the box directly opposite the hatch.
  4. Attach the cup hook to the box’s ceiling, towards the center.
  5. In the drilled hole, tightly tie one end of the nylon fishing line. Over the cup hook, drape the fishing line and make it hang one inch above the bottom of the box.
  6. String the vegetable or bait at the other end of the fishing line. Make sure it’s dangling above the base of the box.

Once the gopher sets foot inside the trap and tugs on the food, the slack will loosen and close the hatch, effectively live trapping the gopher.

gopher with food in its mouth

Will mole traps work on gophers?

Mole and gopher traps are similar in operation as they’re both burrowing rodents, but gopher traps are generally larger to accommodate the gopher’s larger body size. Gopher traps may be used on moles, but mole traps can’t be used on gophers since they’re too small.

For reference, a standard adult mole size is about 4 to 7 inches long, whereas a gopher is 6 to 8 inches long.

If you’re unsure how to set a gopher trap, an alternative is contacting a pest control specialist. They can properly identify the pest and dispose of the gopher if you have no tool to do so, such as a Gopherhawk gopher grabber.

Where do you put gopher traps?

The best place to set a gopher trap is in tunnels below a newly-dug gopher hole.

You can tell whether a mound is new if wet, displaced grass is sprawled around it. If the mound is old, there will be dry grass or no grass at all.

Gophers don’t care about the mounds themselves; they use them as an easy way to push the dirt they’ve excavated while burrowing. What you should be looking for is the tunnel.

Set your trap in the tunnel system beneath the fresh mound, about 12 to 24 inches below the mound. If the trap can’t snugly fit in the tunnel, try enlarging the hole a bit with a shovel or trowel.

Gophers don’t like sunlight, so you may cover the hole with some of the loose soil to increase the odds of trapping the rodent.

gopher with big teeth

What do you bait a gopher trap with?

Gophers are herbivorous creatures. In the wild, these animals eat a variety of vegetation grown underground, including roots, leaves, grasses, and stems.

Some food that can draw in these burrowing rodents include:

  • Alfafa
  • Bulbs
  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery
  • Corn
  • Dandelions
  • Tubers

Some homeowners also use store-bought gopher bait to attract gophers. These come in a variety of different shapes and sizes but are usually brick-shaped and pellet-sized.

These baits are often laced with a special poison to kill the gophers.

What attracts gophers to your yard in the first place?

Like most rodents, gophers are drawn to areas offering food and shelter. If your yard is full of lush vegetation, it may be more attractive to gophers than a barren one.

If you would like to get rid of gophers ethically, you may want to consider growing natural gopher deterrents around your yard. These plants include:

  • Daffodils
  • Iris
  • Sage
  • Geranium
  • Thyme

You can try using gopher repellent if you want a more immediate solution. This chemical is sprayed around the yard to keep gophers away.

Sprinkling peppermint oil and coffee grounds by the tunnel entrance can also be a last-resort solution to gopher-proof your yard.

Joshua Munoz

Most people’s first instinct when they see a wild skunk is to back away, but not Joshua. He holds a near-obsessive fascination with skunks and their behavior. Although Joshua has never been closer than five feet to a skunk, he has spent countless hours researching them. He knows almost everything there is to know about skunks, from their diet and habitat, to how to humanely trap them. Joshua’s interest in skunks is rooted in his love of animal biology. He fondly remembers topping his finals in biology class while in university. Now, as a writer, he fuses passion and expertise into one by sharing his knowledge about the animal kingdom with others.

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