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If you step outside to see small mounds of earth in your yard, you might have pocket gophers. These small rodents plague gardeners and homeowners alike. And in addition to dotting your yard with unsightly blemishes, pocket gophers can even damage plastic pipes and utility cables.
What is a pocket gopher?
A pocket gopher is a small rodent that gets its name from the pockets in its cheeks. Like hamsters, pocket gophers use these pouches to carry food. Their size varies from species to species, but generally, pocket gophers are 5 to 14 inches long.
Pocket gophers dig these tunnels using their sharp teeth and long claws. They carry the soil they loosen out of the tunnel, which results in the mounds that show up in your yard. A single pocket gopher can move over a ton of earth in a year, which makes for a lot of mounds.
The gophers plug these mounds up when they retreat inside, so that predators like snakes can’t invade their tunnels. Because pocket gophers live almost exclusively underground, they have very poor vision.
Pocket gophers are herbivores and feed on a variety of vegetation, including plant bulbs and roots. Pocket gophers will also eat the vegetation that grows around their mounds. In snowy areas, pocket gophers — which don’t hibernate — may venture a short way out of their burrows to eat the bark from branches or shrubs. However, they prefer to stay securely underground.
How to get rid of pocket gophers
Pocket gophers are actually great for the environment. The dried vegetation and excrement they leave in their burrows works wonders as a natural fertilizer. Additionally, in some areas of the United States, their tunnels can help slow the effects of erosion.
However, most people aren’t willing to deal with the unsightly mounds that pocket gophers leave in their yards. And even fewer take pleasure out of learning a pocket gopher has damaged their pipes or utility cables while trying to dig its tunnels.
If you’re trying to get rid of pocket gophers, you need to call a wildlife control professional. Getting rid of pocket gophers is both time and labor intensive. A trained technician or exterminator will be able to help you locate hard-to-spot mounds and create a wildlife control plan that suits your needs.