Gophers are infamous for wreaking havoc and causing damage. Lawn, plants and even property foundations are all in danger of destruction from the sub-terrain rodents.
Owing to the fact that they live beneath the surface and create a matrix of small tunnels to move around, getting hold of these creatures is not that simple. You will need the help of special apparatus built to trap, kill, or deter the pest.
We’ve reviewed the best gopher traps and treatments to leave your backyard rodent-free. So you can get on with enjoying your backyard.
Gopher Control: How to Trap Gophers
Trapping and excluding gophers from your property are the most effective ways of removing them. There are two types of traps widely used for removing gophers, kill traps, and live traps.
Where kill traps are most commonly used, live traps are available too and we will take a look at the best options later.
The kill traps are popular because they are cheap and super effective. Due to their popularity, you can find them in all shapes and sizes. However, choosing the right trap for your garden can be a drawn-out process involving trial and error.
We will take the trial and error out of the decision and advise you on our finding as to what the best gopher trap is for your pest control needs.
How To Set A Gopher Trap?
Let’s look at how to set a gopher trap. You begin by first mapping the network of tunnels created by the rodents. Take a gopher probe and punch it down into the ground around the area of the surface hole.
When probing you will feel the resistance of the soil as you push through the surface of the lawn. If you still feel resistance as you push down into the ground you’ve missed the tunnel.
When you feel a release in the resistance, you will know that the probe has pushed into hollow ground where the gopher’s burrow is located.
Then take a spade or a trowel, open up the burrow. Then continue probing your lawn until you have mapped the entire tunnel network.
Set traps throughout the burrow network in all directions for the best effect. Different gophers traps will have different set-up and trigger mechanisms. So, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific product you purchase.
For traps set underground, it is good practice to place a stick, flag, or some sort of marker in the lawn to help remember where you placed it.
Once everything is set, cover the burrow until the next day, when you can go and check the traps and remove and dispose of the gopher. Reset this process until you are confident you have dealt with the whole infestation of gophers.
Top Tips for Trapping Gophers
The moment you notice a single gopher, check your arsenal and start preparing the gopher traps. These guys like to live in gopher colonies or groups. If you start setting the traps early, and you’re prepared to work at it, you can clean up a good number of animals throughout a single day.
Dealing with the Smart Gophers
Yep, some gophers are smart enough to realize there’s a trap in their run. Well that’s the beauty of evolution, right?
They may try to cover the trap with mud and re-direct the tunnel. In this situation, you can choose to lay another trap in the new section of the tunnel. If this fails leave the tunnel ‘trap free’ for a few days so the gophers can run free. The objective here is to catch the gopher off-guard when you relay the trap. That usually does the trick.
The Best Gopher Traps Reviewed
Okay, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of finding the best gopher traps for your garden or yard. Here are the top 7 gopher traps that you can use to trap and kill nuisance gophers.
You will also find our top pick of no-kill gopher traps for a catch and release approach.
The Gopherhawk trap makes light work of trapping gophers. With no digging required to place and set the trap, it’s by far the most convenient option we reviewed.
The slim design and simple set-up is the main reason it scores so well with users. It is a long thin baton shape with a pump-action shaft. Once it’s in the ground and armed it provides a yellow indicator as a visual guide as to whether it has been triggered.
We love this trap for its convenience; no digging required, above-ground visual indication, and a hands-free release function to drop dead rodents straight into the garbage.
How to use the Gopherhawk Trap Set?
Inspect the ground around the gopher hole with the probe and use the wedge to widen the hole to the diameter of the trap. The best part is that you won’t have to dig out a hole with a spade. The wedge moves the mud aside and simply insert the trap.
When the hole is wide enough, push the trap inside the hole and pull its external sleeve to hide the yellow part on the inner bar. This sets the trigger and makes enough space for the gopher to be trapped inside the clasp.
There are so many reasons why we love the Gopherhawk trap set.
All in one
This is a complete set of apparatus for killing gophers. With probe, wedge, and trap mechanism everything you need is in this kit
Easy to Install
The Gopherhawk is super easy. Perfect for professionals or first time users. By far the easiest trap for first time users.
Gopherhawk traps like most of the other traps can be used repeatedly to catch gophers. So, once you have got one, just set it again and again.
To reset and release the trap from its closed position, simply hold the spring in one hand, and tap on the outer cover with the other. As with all activation, traps be careful to keep your hands and fingers away from the snare.
- Hands-free, just open the snare, and the gopher will be released
- Yellow trigger indicator visible above ground
- It can fool trap shy gophers with its discrete design
- Can potentially obstruct the tunnel with its spreader mechanism
- Internal components not galvanized
A rather innovative cylindrical design to align with the gopher tunnel contours. One of the few plastic products, with a fully enclosed design. Making handling the trap safe and clean. It’s a great little critter catcher when set-up properly.
It looks great and works well. One major consideration is the operating space required for this trap to trigger properly. It requires around 7” in height.
So when you dig to place your trap, be sure to allow about 3” clearance space above the trap to ensure the spring trigger can release.
How does it work?
Black hole traps are equipped with a steel cable that snares and kills the gopher with sheer force.
A simple small wire bar is passed over the trap spring to set it.
Inside the black plastic case is a metal trigger plate that the gopher activates by touch. This releases the coiled spring, which in-turn shoots upward raising the wire snare, killing the gopher.
- Safe and easy to set by hand
- Made from a durable plastic case and galvanized metalwork
- A better working mechanism compared to most other systems
- Requires approx. 7” clearance space to operate spring
- The trap is not fully concealed underground when set
- If there is blood inside the hole, cleaning can be a bit messy
Cinch traps operate with a conventional trigger-shut mechanism. Once the gopher or mole pushes the trigger, the clutch slams shut fast and trap-kills the gopher.
The key to success with cinch traps is to set them as deep inside the gopher hole as possible without triggering the trap. This can at times be frustrating, but once you have got the hang of it, cinch traps are an effective trapping device.
How to use the Cinch Traps?
Cinch traps will require slightly more work and effort than the Gopherhawk Trap. While probing the hole is similar in every kind of trap setting, with cinch traps, you need a spade or shovel to widen the hole and deepen it.
While setting the trap, make sure there’s no debris inside the gopher hole to avoid a false trigger.
Before placing the trap into the hole, be sure to push the spring to the opposite side of the mechanism, and set it by applying the wire latch attached to the trap’s base.
On the other end, pull the trigger backward and fix it in place with another wire that latch. Pretty basic but effective.
A Clean Kill
The Cinch traps are designed to work by trapping the gopher’s head inside the clutch. You can be sure of a fast clean kill.
Compared to all other gopher traps that we reviewed, Gopherhark is the easiest trap to set up. Its slim design makes it easy to carry around and doesn’t require much force to pull the outer cover back.
This trap is set inside the ground, making cinch traps safe for use with pets and children, so long as you follow the guidelines.
Stainless Steel Construction
These are all-season traps. Even in the wettest condition, the galvanized steel won’t corrode with moisture ingress.
- Simple design and easy to work with.
- Cinch traps are cost-effective and low maintenance.
- Available in three sizes 2.25”, 3.0”, 3.5”
- The trigger mechanism is very sensitive
- Requires a bit of digging to find the burrow then place the trap inside
These traps might be small, but the MaCabee gopher traps are no less effective at dealing with gophers.
How do they work?
Even though these traps were originally designed in the early 1900s, they are still one of the most effective ways to kill gophers and moles. MaCabee is designed in a way that’s difficult for the gopher to see when moving through the burrow.
The MaCabee traps will catch the gopher from the neck or the chest with a claw-like mechanism that rapidly springs into action when the gophers hit the trigger plate. Just like the previous models reviewed MaCabee is also no bait trap.
For some, it might make handling slightly more difficult, while others like the small size of the MaCabee. Mainly because it ensures easy placement of the trap deep inside the burrow.
- Small, affordable, and made to fit in smaller tunnels
- Durable coating rust-free design
- One size fits all
- The main trigger rod is hard to push into position
- Overall, the consistency in build quality is low
- No Instructions.
Victor Gopher traps have been a popular choice for many years. The traps are designed to get rid of gophers without bait. They have an extra-strong galvanized steel frame intended for better performance and durability.
Victor traps have a relatively narrow design. This makes it a good choice if there is a big network of smaller tunnels. Plus, victor-traps are cost-effective, making it easier to buy in numbers and strategically set up a trap matrix to eliminate or deter the gophers from your property.
Overall despite some quality issues, they are a decent trap. But…there aren’t free from manufacturing and design flaws. The traps do have a tendency to trigger prematurely. Plus the design can lead to the mechanism failing due to debris clogging the traps motion.
How does this work?
Like any other suffocating trap, the victor traps have two metal bars going sideways in a zigzag form. So, when the trap and trigger are set, the Victor trap uses the same metal plate trigger mechanism as the MaCabee and Sweeney traps.
The gopher runs onto the trap, hits the trigger plate and the claw mechanism snaps shut around the gopher’s neck or chest.
One of the key features of the Victor gopher traps is that they come completely assembled. All you have to do is set the trigger right as per the instructions manual and you are good to go.
- Superfast closing mechanism
- Easy to work with and setting the trigger is a breeze.
- Weather-resistant galvanized coating
- An inconsistent and often premature release mechanism
- Small and fiddly to handle
- No automatic rodent release mechanism
Similar to the MaCabee traps, these mechanisms are also small in size and can be placed inside smaller tunnel cavities. The mechanical principle behind these traps is super effective. Theoretically, they’re high powered and the gopher is killed instantly. That’s when they work…!
Overall our experience was moderate at best, if not poor. Very thick rust protective coating inhibits mechanism working. On top of that, the trigger plate was inconsistent.
How does this work?
Sweeney’s traps have a pincher style operation. They are intended to clasp around the gopher’s neck or body. Holding the gopher tight which eventually kills it through suffocation.
The trap triggers when the trip plate is dislocated. To better understand how to set these up, you might need to check out the instructions manual accompanying the trap.
Safe with House Pets
Since there are no protruding parts outside of the ground, Sweeney’s traps are safe to use with pets around.
- Durable coating rust-free design
- One size fits all
- Thick rust protective paint can inhibit the trigger mechanism
- Inconsistent trigger plate. Not as reliable as other brands
- Gophers need to be removed by hand, no release mechanism
How to get rid of Gophers Humanely
If you are against killing rodents and critters, here are some gopher repellents to drive them away from your property and leave you with a clear conscience
Relative to the other types of repellents, these granules seem to get pretty decent results. We have not tested them, but customer feedback is generally positive for this product.
How does it work?
Simply drop the granules into the gopher tunnel and water.
This formula is a sensory repellent (scent and taste). Making the contaminated areas a very unpleasant environment for sub-terranean mammals. Eventually driving the unwelcome guest out of their burrows and off your land.
Works in shifts
This is not a one day process; you will have to repeat the process for 4 to 5 consecutive days. Each day treat a new area. The reason being, these repellents create an uninhabitable environment for the gophers. So, if they are deterred from one side of the lawn, they may simply move to the other side.
So, you have to cover the entire area methodically, resulting in a successful clear out!
- The no-kill formula, use this repellent method with a clear conscience
- These pesticide-free granules contain castor oil
- Pet friendly
- Takes several days to see the results
- Not a suitable method for large areas
- Requires precise distribution and water to get effective results
How to Get Rid of A Gopher?
Gophers love moisture-laden soil and healthy grass. Given that all well-maintained gardens or lawns boast these attributes, a gophers infestation is a very real possibility.
There are both humane and matter of fact ways of removing gophers from your property. While there are mechanized traps that catch and kill them, let’s also talk about a few not-so-brutal methods of dealing with Gophers.
Before we move ahead, if you have read or been told that getting rid of the grubs in your soil can remove gophers, don’t bank on it. The reason being, gophers, are herbivores, meaning they will feast on your vegetation and crops
So, using insecticides and other toxins to eliminate their natural food source just won’t be that effective.
First, let’s take a look at some of the methods you can try as part of your gopher control strategy.
A mixture of castor oil, dish soap in a 3:1 ratio dissolved in water. This is an effective formula to deter gophers and moles. This mixture will agitate their digestive systems and make your lawn undesirable. Ultimately, it may lead to gophers fleeing the garden.
Both liquid and granules based repellents can also be effective to rid your property of gophers. Spreading the granules evenly is best done with a spreader tool. For liquid repellents, simply join the garden hose with the repellent concentrate feed bottle.
Make sure that you throw the granules inside the tunnels. The same goes for liquid repellents. They must be poured inside the tunnels for the best results.
Flowers and Plants
While humans love the aroma of daffodils and marigolds, gophers are not so keen. Growing these plants in your flower beds will help keep the gophers away from that local area.
When you’re in battle, trenches are essential to establish your hold over the territory. This is the battle between man and animal, and a 6-inch trench is your best line of defense.
Once you have dug out the trench, fill it with rocks or wired mesh. This will restrict the gopher’s ability to create burrows and stop it in its tracks.
Gophers are anti-social beings, and most importantly, they don’t like being disturbed. Get a sonic spike and insert it into the ground to create irritating noises. These frustrating ultra-sonic sounds have around an 80% success rate.
7 Best Gopher Traps Summary
So there you have it! The 7 best gopher traps reviewed. Whether you’re looking for a clean and convenient product like the GopherHawk, or a deterrent like the Victor Gopher Repellent, there’s something here for you.