California Pocket Gophers

What are California pocket gophers?

The California pocket gopher, sometimes called a Valley pocket gopher, is a burrowing rodent with large-clawed front paws and strong front legs designed for digging.  They have fine, short fur that repels wet soil, and use their sensitive facial whiskers to help navigate the dark tunnels underground. Gophers have four large front teeth and can close their lips behind their teeth to keep dirt out of their mouths even while using their teeth to help tunnel in the earth.

california pocket gopher coming out of hole

California pocket gophers are often confused with other similar-looking mammals, such as moles, ground squirrels, rats, and chipmunks. They look a little like a long-tailed beaver with their buckteeth.

Most gophers are between six and ten inches long. They have small eyes and ears that are barely visible. They get their name from the external fur-lined pockets in their cheeks which they use like grocery bags to carry roots and other vegetative food.


Signs of a California pocket gopher infestation

Fresh mounds of soil can signify the presence of a gopher. Gophers dig tunnels and push the loosened dirt to the surface, leaving horseshoe shaped mounds of dirt on the ground. There are rarely any visible signs of the hole itself since the loosened dirt fills back in around the tunneling gopher.

Gophers rarely come out of their holes, so if you think you see one hanging out above ground, you probably have a ground squirrel rather than a gopher.

You’ll know you have gophers if you notice damage to your grass, trees, plants, and flowers in addition to the mounds of dirt. Water line damage can also signify a gopher infestation. Once a gopher has settled into their tunnels underground, they will live there permanently until you take steps to get rid of them.

multiple gopher mounds in novato ca lawn
damaged caused to a monterey ca lawn by gophers
what gopher damage looks like in san francisco bay area

Tips for preventing gophers

Using physical barriers or exclusion techniques aren’t overly effective in keeping gophers out of your yard as they can tunnel very deeply underground.

Exclusion methods with mesh wire fencing can be used to keep gophers out of your favorite flower bed or away from valuable ornamental plants rather than your entire yard. Look for mesh wire fencing with ¼ mesh. Bury the mesh fencing at least 18 inches deep around the area you wish to protect, leaving about six inches of fencing above ground.


How Smith's can help get rid of gophers

If you already have California Pocket Gophers tunneling around your yard, Smith's Pest Management can help without the use of harmful toxins.

We use either a three-step gopher trapping process with professional-grade stainless-steel traps, or a carbon monoxide fumigation treatment to eliminate gophers.

Both gopher control options satisfy the We’re Healthy Schools Act and are ideal for schools, daycares, and other commercial environments as well as homes.

For effective gopher control in the San Francisco Bay area, the Monterrey Bay area or for help getting rid of gophers in Sonoma County, contact Smith’s today!


Helpful Gopher Articles

How to Identify Gopher Damage in Your Yard

The Most Common Areas for Gopher Damage Around Homes and Commercial Facilities

3 Reasons You Need To Consider Gopher Control In The San Francisco Bay Area

Homeowners Guide To Gopher Control


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