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How To Tell If You Have Gophers

Do you have gophers

If you start finding holes or mounds in your yard, you need to catch the culprit quickly so that your lawn isn’t completely destroyed. Gophers are common lawn pests that can dig up to 70 mounds per month. Unfortunately, there are other critters that can destroy lawns, like moles and voles, so how do you know if you are dealing with a gopher? Mounds, surface holes, and damaged vegetation are all key signs of a gopher.

Here are Some Easy Ways to Tell if Your Have Gophers:


Gophers are great diggers, and a single gopher may claim a territory up to 2,000 square feet. Their vast tunnel systems can be just a few inches below the surface to nearly 6 feet underground. The excess dirt that they clear when digging tunnels is deposited above ground in the form of a mound. Gophers dig down into the soil at an angle and will throw the soil behind them as the go, so gopher mounds will be crescent or fan-shaped. They will also have a plug of dirt covering the hole. Fresh dirt mounds will be dark and loose, while the soil in older mounds will be lighter and more compact.

gopher mound
An example of an older gopher mound


Gophers are vegetarians that feast on many types of plants. They like to eat the roots of plants right from their tunnels, but sometimes they will also search for food out of their holes. In cases like this, a gopher will emerge from a special “feed hole”, search for food, and then retreat back down. These holes are approximately 3 inches in diameter with no mounds attached.

Plant and Utility Damage

As mentioned above, it’s not only their holes and tunnels that can be problematic. Gophers can also affect your plants. They will eat the roots, causing wilted or dead plants. They may also eat the foliage or pull entire plants down into their holes. Gophers are part of the rodent family, so their teeth grow throughout their whole lives. They must constantly be gnawing on things to keep them a good length. This need to gnaw means that gophers can also destroy utility cables, irrigation drip lines, and sprinkler systems.

Pocket Gopher via Wikimedia

Signs of Other Pests

While gophers are common lawn pests, they are not the only troublemakers. Moles and voles also cause damage to lawns. Here are some of the differences you need to know. Moles
  • Volcano-shaped mounds that are symmetrical with a plug in the middle
  • Runways just below the surface that form 2-3 inch ridges, running between mounds
  • Moles do not eat plants, and instead survive mostly on grubs, earthworms, etc.
  • Small surface runways where the grass has been eaten away to form a clear path
  • Activity most noticeable after winter snow has melted
  • Small, open holes in gardens, flower beds, or under plant foliage
  • Tree bark that has been stripped away near the surface of the ground.
  • Voles do not leave mounds

Gopher Control

Harris Mole and Gopher Killer can help you get rid of the gophers that are digging up your yard. The bait can be placed directly into the tunnel system and will work quickly. Various traps are also available to get rid of rodents and moles. So if you believe you have a gopher in your yard, then take a look at our gopher killer for proven results.