We don't want to put out poisons, and we have tried most everything else with no success:

  • vibrating pegs
  • traps
  • water in the holes
  • pepper

Its to the point where we're ready to pave over the lawn. Has anyone found a method that worked?

  • 1
    Is there a specific reason you are averse to poison? Do you have specific objection to killing them, or is it just an issue of pets/children/etc? Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 21:01
  • 2
    I second the rifle depending on where you are. Its lots of work, but can be fun.
    – Web
    Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 21:35
  • 1
    Are you talking about western gophers or moles? Reason for asking is, if moles, a completely different method can be used. Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 9:56
  • 2
    @james_van_huis I don't want to use poisons because we have lots of pets in the area. Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 19:09
  • @shirlock_homes how would I tell the difference? Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 19:10

6 Answers 6


I'll echo shirlock homes and ask for clarification if you are dealing with gophers or moles.

I'm not sure about gophers, but critters like moles will often burrow and tunnel into a yard because the yard is infested with grubs. They're there to eat the grubs. To get rid of the moles you then treat the grub problem and the moles go away.

Check out your yard, look for grubs and other insect infestations.

  • 6
    +1 for the idea of figuring out why they're coming to your yard and fixing that. That was what finally solved our mole problem. (and got my lawn looking decent for the first time in years... blasted grubs!)
    – cabbey
    Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 8:43

I was watching my lovely lawn being totally destroyed by gophers. I tried all of the non-lethal forms of rodent/gopher control. My association sent the gardeners to treat for gophers and nothing helped; chili powder; noise devices; moth balls and I can't remember everything I tried over approximately a year.

BUT I have totally rid the lawn of gophers by opening up a couple of fresh gopher holes and placing cat feces (from my cat's litter box) down the hole as far as my delivery device will allow. Then I replace the dirt to close the gopher hole.

The cat is a predator of the gopher/rodent and simply scares the gophers away. I suspect you could try this with moles too.


I have a friend who swears by Euphorbia Lathyrus (he calls it Mole Purge). It has naturalized itself in his back yard and in flowerbeds at the front of his house, and the only places I've seen molehills are at the extreme edges of the front of his lot.

I assume you're in North America from your use of the word gopher; the Wikipedia page indicates that its natural range is large, so it will probably work in a lot of climates (I'm in USDA zone 6).

  • Very interesting solution. Although, take note that the Wikipedia page says the plant is poisonous. Natural poison, not a synthetic chemical though. Still a problem with pets prone to chew on vegetation.
    – Doresoom
    Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 23:09
  • @Doresoom: he has dogs, some who graze a lot, and has never had any problems with them chewing on the mole purge. The sap smells pungent, so it might not be attractive to them.
    – Niall C.
    Commented Mar 3, 2011 at 23:26
  • Are we talking about moles, gophers, or groundhogs? Most of the time I hear gopher people are referring to what I call a groundhog which are much much bigger than moles.
    – Cody C
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 15:16
  • Just trying to cover all the bases. With that addressed, I think you've got a great answer. (Also - "some who graze a lot" cracked me up. Our dog regularly comes back into the house with green teeth from eating grass.)
    – Doresoom
    Commented Mar 4, 2011 at 19:39
  • Generally it is a bad idea to import items to deal with local pests. The initial effort is generally successful, but the aftereffects sometimes are much worse. Try scaring off with signs of natural predators (cat feces) combined with a reduction in food (grub control). They live there because it's comfy, make it inhospitable.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented Sep 24, 2012 at 14:31

I am a Pocket Gopher Expert of over 55 years, sorry I’m late, I stay busy.

The ONLY “true method” is trapping, you see it and know it will never breed, eat, or have pups again. Everything else is either a waste of time, money, or an old wives tale.

Pocket gophers are strict Herbivores. They only eat live plants. They will not consume seed, bait or grain regardless of what the industry states. Of all the products on the US market, not one bait or poison was tested on pocket gophers; only on rats, mice and ferrets, and those are Omnivores. Not even close.

Explosive gas will destroy pipe and underground utilities, foundations and pools. They have also caused major fires and users have been seriously injured. Deadly gas like carbon monoxide is not to be used within 100’ from any structure where living beings are but it’s not far enough away as these individuals are forcing the gas into the tunnels that lead into the walls and under the bathtubs. Imagine your Child in the bathtub and drowns and you don’t know why, but the neighbor had someone gas for gophers. It is odorless and concrete is porous, concrete cannot be sealed around water, gas, and sewer pipes, as hard as contractors try, the gophers simply chip it out, along with the concrete and create large dens of pups inside the walls and cavities under those tubs, even shower pans.

So…let’s see…feces, noisemakers, gum, water…none of these work. We have proof with our decades of research and videos.

Putting water into the tunnels will do more damage than the gophers. If you have a pool, expect damages in the future. Without the soil, the pressure from the water blows out and creates sinkholes. We have many problems with sinkholes here and I can’t emphasize on this enough not to do it. I’m still new so I can’t add photos but I have many of the extreme damages.

BTW California and the rest of the country are banning Carbon Monoxide for use on rodents, because people don’t think before they act. Trapping is the best way.

If you’re not aware, all pocket gophers are naturally born with tapeworm. Letting pets dig in the mounds, eat or mouth them can infect them either by inhalation or swallowing the nearly microscopic eggs. If you’ve allowed your pets to do this or you’ve walked through the dirt or handled the dirt and gone inside your home, you can transmit it into your home and to your family. The next time the pooch or cat are carpet scooting , that’s a good signal to take them in and get them dewormed before you and your family get it, especially the babies.

Mothballs: using this method is a federal violation of label. Mothballs will not do a thing for the gophers, same with chili powder, feces, litter, gopher purge, etc. a customer failed to notify me of the actual amount of mothballs, she said, “five” and when I opened the mound, the gas made me pass out into the hole. Luckily I didn’t go into the pool. I have had 3 eye surgeries because of this and my eyes are still severely damaged. So you know, Naphthalene is deadly to us. It alters our blood and a gopher pushes dirt over it and moves it aboveground where a small child can consume. Remember, gophers travel and those tunnels intersect for miles with other inbreeding gophers. The baits are brightly stained and they do look like candy, so it’s just another reason to not use all that useless stuff.

Noisemakers. A ground set AC unit is the same decibels as a New York train. A noisemaker and the thumpers aren’t even close. We have pulled every variety our of the dens where the females will drag them into the nest and her pups will be sleeping next to them. Don’t waste your money, you can’t get your money back as they do not take returns.

Traps. That’s it. The only trap I am currently using are made by Victor and they’re called EasySet Gopher Traps. They last the longest, easiest to set, and don’t hold odors.

  • Nice answer, but the off-site solicitation is a bit of a bummer. If you could, please edit this answer to remove that and instead expand a bit on what you think would be useful for the general public to know about gopher traps.
    – tripleee
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 8:26
  • I didn’t realize offering free help was a “solicitation” but sure, I’m happy to help. Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 8:39
  • That's 3 such posts now. I am downvoting. Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 8:56
  • 1
    Of course, in the SE world, there is no way to "contact me" other than by having a public conversation here in the chat. At least this person is very up front about having a business and sharing his biz experience. This, technically, makes it not spam.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 12:42
  • Thanks FreeMan. I’m new here, I’m also old and still trying to learn all this. I have limited time to offer what I do know and when I state, “let me know” it’s just me saying to ask me and I’ll be happy to help. I don’t recall listing my contact number or e-mail so how is this spam? The help boxes state to respond based on experience, I’m doing that. I do searches on what I do and specialize in, to try and help others. But this is considered spam? I don’t make a penny off recommending those traps either. Can you explain how I can give advice on what I know and not break rules? Commented Feb 17, 2023 at 8:19

If it's moles, then one solution is to use mole repellent. It's a granular material that you spread on your lawn and water in.

Apparently, it's primarily castor oil and it, in turn, is eaten by the grubs which then taste bad and the moles move on to other areas.

The catch is you need to 'corral' the gophers out of your yard by spreading and watering in sections as you go to 'push' them out of the yard.

The other catch is if you are in an urban area, you're just pushing the gophers over to your neighbor's yard. So, you may not be seen as a great neighbor. ;)

All that said, a few people mentioned getting rid of the grubs to begin with which never occurred to me. So I think that's my next job...


50 years ago I taped a hose to my car's exhaust pipe, leaving the motor run. I'm not sure if the fumes killed them or caused them to move on. Before I fumed them I tried running water, using a garden hose, down their holes. All that did was make my yard a swamp, with no visible effect on the critters.

  • 1
    I believe carbon monoxide would be considered poisoning.
    – BMitch
    Commented Sep 30, 2015 at 22:09
  • That won't work too well these days. Modern cars emit almost no carbon monoxide, making exhaust fumes far less poisonous.
    – Mark
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 0:04
  • Won't work at all with a diesel car - it's only petrol cars that produce enough CO. Although it may make them uncomfortable enough to move house.
    – Tim
    Commented Feb 16, 2023 at 10:45

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