How does gopher poison work?
The main types of poison used in gopher control products are strychnine, zinc phosphide, and diphacionine. Each of these poisons works within a different time frame, and some are far quicker (and less inhumane) than others.
Strychnine was once one of the most commonly used gopher poisons, but has fallen out of favor as its long-lasting environmental impacts become clear. As strychnine is a long-lasting poison, this means that any predator who feeds on a poisoned gopher will be secondarily poisoned. Therefore, it is not recommended for casual domestic use.
When ingested by a gopher, strychnine affects the muscles, causing severe cramps that eventually ‘strangle’ the animal to death.
Zinc phosphide is considered safer for home use than strychnine, as it does not cause secondary poisoning of other animals. This poison produces toxic phosphine gas once swallowed, which causes gophers (and other rodents) to die in as little as 15 minutes.
Diphacinone is an anticoagulant, which means it prevents the blood from clotting. Gophers that eat a diphacinone-laced bait will eventually die from internal bleeding, but they have to eat quite a lot of the bait to reach a lethal dose.
4 Tips to get rid of gophers with the help of poison or repellents
Identify gopher mounds and burrows
You have a good chance of getting rid of gophers once you find their main tunnel and where they exit and enter their burrows. Inspect your property for gopher mounds and other signs of gopher activity, so you know where to place your poison.
Place your poison or repellent for best gopher exposure
Your poison will have the best effect if it is placed in an area with high levels of gopher activity. Set up poison baits near main tunnels and gopher mounds so they will have ready access to it. It’s best to do this on a dry day and replace block baits whenever they become wet or stale. If you are using traps, you should also place these near the entrance of the gopher tunnel.
Place your poisons at the right time of year
Spring is the mating season for gophers, so they are most active at this time of year. This means that spring is also the best time to lay any traps or poisons. If done effectively, your control efforts will stop the breeding season in its tracks and get your garden gopher-free by summer.
Set up a gopher trap or two
Gopher traps are not the most effective pest control, especially for people with larger yards. However, they can be an important monitoring tool to increase your gopher control success rate. Set up a gopher trap or two near the main tunnel; when the traps start coming up empty, you’ll know your other control methods are working.
Is gopher poison dangerous to humans or pets?
Gopher poison can be extremely dangerous to humans, pets, and other animals. In some regions, the environmental protection agency prohibited the use of gopher poison due to the potential hazard these substances present to wildlife.
Always exercise caution when using any type of poison, and keep toxic baits well away from children and pets. If you are unsure about the safety or how to use a particular product, call a pest control professional for their expert advice.
Homemade gopher repellents
If you’re sick of gopher damage in your garden but don’t want to resort to poison, homemade gopher repellents may be the answer. Gophers are thought to detest certain smells, and you can use these to your advantage when repelling them from your property. Some popular natural gopher repellents include:
You may love the smell of your morning coffee, but gophers aren’t a fan of the scent. Coffee grounds have a powerful smell that repels gophers, so scattering them around gopher holes or over flower beds can encourage them to move on.
Gophers are naturally afraid of cats, so it’s time for them to earn their keep if you have a kitty! Scatter your cats used litter near gopher mounds and tunnels to make them run a mile. (This method is also reported to repel moles and other small animals that may be preyed on by cats).
Dryer sheets are surprisingly effective gopher repellents, and are a very inexpensive way to control gophers. Stuff sheets into the holes in gopher mounds and hang a few from your clothesline for good measure. The laundry-fresh scent will have gophers abandoning their tunnels in no time.
Frequently asked questions
How long does it take for the poison to kill a gopher?
If you place your poison in a good location (i.e., near the main entrances to tunnels), it won’t take long to work. Potent poisons (like strychnine) can deliver a lethal dose with just a few nibbles, and the gophers will die within a day or two of eating the bait.
Is gopher poison effective?
Gopher poisons that contain rodenticides (i.e., poisons designed to kill rodents) are highly effective. After gophers eat the bait, they usually die within a few hours and in large numbers. Poison is the best gopher control method for quick and effective extermination if you have a large infestation.
To sum it up
If you see a gopher hole in your garden, you’ll want to act quickly. Gophers are highly destructive pests and can dig up turf and ravage plants while constructing an elaborate labyrinth of tunnels beneath your backyard.
Gopher trapping tools and poisons are widely available for purchase, but many of these come with a set of risks or are, at least, time-consuming to set up and maintain. Often, the most effective way to control gophers is with the help of a pest control expert. Call your local wildlife service for a free quote and advice on how to handle your gopher problem.