So who are these frustrating little critters?
Pocket Gophers, more commonly referred to as simply "gophers," are small burrowing rodents native to North and Central America. Just like our cute little friend the vole, gophers are known for their extensive tunneling, leaving horseshoe shaped mounds of earth on your lawn...and their ability to destroy farms, gardens, and landscapes. Ground squirrels are sometimes referred to as "gophers" as well, but here we'll be talking about true gophers. Vole King offers proactive protection to deter both of these critters from damaging your beautiful landscape!
Gophers are small rodents, 6 to 14 inches in length, with a 1-2 inch long hairy tail, and weigh in at about 1/2 a pound. Males are larger, and can weigh almost twice as much as females. Gophers have large cheeks (these are actually expandable pouches!), small eyes, and brown fur, which helps them blend into the soil in which they live. A gopher's teeth are constantly growing; they must gnaw continuously to keep them from getting too long. They use both their claws and teeth when digging their tunnels.
Gophers have a vegetarian diet which consists of roots of grass, trees, shrubs, and flowers, as well as the flower itself. They also love to nibble on tasty bulbs, and love vegetables from your garden. They prefer to stay underground, but they will come up and feast on your plants above ground near the entrances to their tunnels, and will also pull vegetation into their tunnels from below. Gophers are hoarders - they will stuff those cheek pouches full and store food in their burrows for later consumption.
Gophers are primarily found in the Western two-thirds of North America (with the exception of the southeastern pocket gopher), and Central America. Gophers live in burrows, usually 4-18 inches below the ground surface, with tunnels and smaller burrows built off the main one. You can find the entrance to their elaborate tunnel systems at the soil mound(s) in your grass. The number of soil mounds above ground may be as many as 300 per gopher each year! They love fresh garden beds, new landscaping where soil and mulch are loose, woodland beds, and tilled garden soil. The easier it is to dig, the easier it is for gophers to maneuver through your landscape. Gophers will also tunnel through snow above ground. They do not hibernate. Their peak activity is believed to be at dawn and dusk, but they are also active throughout the day, with periods of rest between periods of activity.
Gophers generally are solitary creatures outside of breading season, maintaining their own territories. Depending on the species, they may breed year round, or have a specific annual breeding season (usually Spring). Females reach sexual maturity in the spring after their birth. Each litter contains 2-5 babies on average. The young are weaned when they are around 40 days old.
Gophers often carry parasites (lice, ticks, fleas, and mites) and disease, including viral infections, rabies, and the plague. These illnesses can be caught by accidental contact with the urine, droppings, or a direct bite from the gopher. Because the ground under their tunnels is hollow, their presence creates a safety hazard as well. A sinking foot can result in a break, sprain, or twist that can leave you out of commission. Even worse, if a gopher is in the tunnel at the time, they may bite, increasing your risk of catching one of the diseases they carry.
Gophers can be very destructive. They generally attack the plant from below, eating the root system and crown (the base of the plant, where the stem stops and the roots start) directly under the plant, or pulling the plant underground. The first sign of a gopher will be mounds of dirt popping up in your yard, followed by dying plants, trees, and shrubs, or disappearing flowers/vegetation. Gophers can quickly wipe out landscapes, garden beds, and crops. They do not hibernate, so year round protection is crucial.
Prevention is key: be PROACTIVE, not reactive!
- Vole King stainless steel wire mesh baskets (especially our new gopher basket, designed specifically for these pesky critters) and rolls allow you to protect your plants from the time of installation. Our unique design allows the roots to grow out, while protecting the crown, stem, and root ball. This allows gophers and plants to live in harmony.
- Vole King protects new or transplanted trees, shrubs, bulbs, annual flowers, perennials, entire garden beds...we have sizes and options for every planting!
- Vole King wire mesh can also be used above ground to protect melons, pumpkins, etc. from gophers, squirrels, racoons, and other critters.
- Vole King is providing our customers an easy, one-time, green solution that is protecting your investment, time, and labor from day one, throughout the life of the plant.