Meet the Gophinator

The Gophinator

Thankfully, we don’t have gophers, but dealing with them is one of the first questions we get when teaching vegetable gardening classes.  You can use raised beds lined with hardware cloth. But, other than target practice (a no-no in urban areas), most people I know with gopher problems end up using traps or zealous cats.

Several sources have told me about the Cadillac of gopher traps, the aptly named “Gophinator”. Scott Kleinrock of the Huntington Ranch is one of those Gophinator fans, who stressed avoiding the cheap traps available at big box stores. The Gophinator is sturdy, easy to set and made out of stainless steel that lasts much longer than cheaper traps.

To use it you need to dig around and find the main subway line the gophers ride. Scott hooks up a wire and a stake to the traps to remember where they are placed.

The Gophinator is manufactured by Trapline products and you can order one and view some instructional videos here.

How do you deal with gophers? Leave some comments!

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  1. I don’t have gophers, I have moles. I also have a young dog that has a very high prey drive and she loves to dig up beetle larvae and eat them. She walks around the yard looking at the ground, smelling and listening, and will dig them up. The first time she dug up a mole she was confused as heck but our old dog high tailed it over there and snapped that morsel up right under her nose, so Rox decided that they must be delicious too and started looking for them. It took her about two months to catch a dozen or so of them but we haven’t had any problems with them in almost a year now.

  2. We have groundhogs; not quite the same thing as gophers. Groundhogs are more aggressive and destructive, and now have no natural predators. We use a have-a-heart trap, even though many would argue that we’re heartless. We drown them after catching them, which is awful, I know, but we’re not comfortable firing our air rifle into the cage. It’s our food or the animal, as I see it, and I think growing our own food the way we grow it does enough good on balance to balance a groundhog death or two.

    I found a tip online for using such traps. Prop the opening open with a stick so that it cannot fall shut. Bait with fruit or whatever, just outside the trap. When the bait is taken, put more just inside the trap, and then repeat until the bait is in the back where the animal will spring the trap and remove the propping stick. Works really well and only takes 3-4 baitings to get the animal. If you have a lot of critters living in the same space, check the trap really often so that the trapped animal doesn’t freak out the others and make them chary of the trap. Also, such traps are good for catching a lot of different critters.

  3. We had tunnels all over the yard when we moved here in 1977. We did get a cat but never noticed the cat catching anything or the tunnels disappearing.

    Then, in 1982, I obtained two mousers because mice decided to come indoors. Maybe that is why the tunnel-diggers left. NOW, I have the cute little striped animals about five inches long…ground squirrels is what people call them. I just hate them and would gladly drown any I catch. But, I don’t catch them. I fear there are too many at this point. I have heard that castor oil sprayed on the yard and in their dwelling places chases them away. Supposedly orange castor oil, or orange anything drives them away.

    I had a groundhog that would pick tomatoes as they ripened, take one bite, and leave them on the ground with a note telling me “this one is ripe and delicious.” Why he finally went away for good is a mystery. Maybe the raccoons that came next were the cause of his exiting my life.

    Barn cats, practically wild, seemed to be the answer for moles/gophers.

  4. I compost my urine. Pouring urine down the hole of a fresh gopher tunnel works as well. My yard is gopher free and since I collected my neighbors’ urine to go on this massive offensive, I am also quite the neighborhood hero. I say that my cul de sac has been gopher free now for quite awhile. Asparagus in your urine also seems to work better.

  5. Our pocket gophers just became active after our long hot summer. They are driving me crazy and can easily kill a tree (even a mature one) in a single night. We’ve planted everything in aviary wire-lined “baskets” but they chew all the roots that extend past those.

    I’ve been shown a way to use plain ol’ rat traps to get them but it’s labor intensive. It requires digging back from the back-filled hole along the tunnel until the branch is found. Just past this is where you set the rattrap, sprinkled carefully with a little chicken scratch. I was told to wear plastic gloves as any human scent on the trap/food will alert them.

    Once the trap is set, cover the tunnel/hole with a piece of plywood or corrugated tin. Shovel dirt along the edges to block out ALL light, again to keep from alerting the little buggers that their jig is almost up. Come back the next morning and hopefully you’ll have one less gopher. The folks who showed me this have used it to keep 10 acres gohper-free, but it takes constant attention as they keep moving in from the edges of their property.

    I’m going to tell my hubby to start peeing down the holes, though, and see if that works. It’d be a whole lot easier!

  6. Chile, not just pee-ing down the hole, you have to have buckets for every hole in your yard. You are essentially drowning them with pee by the bucket. If you are already composting your urine, this should be easy. Eat lots of Asparagus.

  7. We have the same issues as Chile does – they’ve brought down squash plants, our neighbour’s trees, and even some harmless flowers I planted for the hummingbirds. We tried to get a guy out to trap them for us, but he balked and wouldn’t call us back after seeing our yard (!) So far a combination of cats, coffee grounds in the holes and wire mesh under our raised beds has kept them at a manageable level. We also have red shouldered hawks locally, which I think helps keep the population down.

    But with a third of an acre, and neighbours who barely use their back yards (and have dogs) it feels like a futile task to have to dig up our yard and kill them all with traps – they’re just chronic in our neighbourhood. Everyone has them. The sidewalks have them. And during this time of year, I see them eating the weeds more than anything we’re actively planting, so I’m waiting until next summer to really confirm that anything we’re doing is working.

  8. Guys- you’re doing it the hard way!

    When I was a kid my pop backed up the truck in the driveway, stuck one end of the hose in the tailpipe, wrapped that end in a big, wet rag, stuck the other end of the hose in the gopher hole, packed the dirt around it, and turned on the truck. He let it run for awhile- probably half an hour.

    No more gophers.

  9. We had a few moles here and we dumped ferret waste down into their tunnels. I don’t know if it was fear of carnivores or the insult, but they moved out and we’ve not had any in years.

  10. Paula,
    As an urban homesteader and vegan, I don’t really want to kill anything. I just want them to move on and leave. Sure I could drop poison tablets in the holes, but is this really the example I want to show my children?

  11. We have acreage and a large yard, and gophers have been a problem. My husband catches them with water jugs filled with water. He’ll sit on the porch w/our dog and watch for any running around in the yard. When one goes down their hole, he immediately runs over with the two 1 gallon vinegar jugs of water and pours down the hole. The top of the jug is cut off some, for a larger hole in the top. The gophers run up into the jug and they’re caught. Sometimes the first jug is not enough, so that’s why he has two.

    Last summer he caught over 20 gophers. We’re softies when it comes to animals, so they’re taken farther out into the country and let go. Most people think they run down their tunnel, and sometimes they do, but if you pour as soon as they go in the hole, most times they don’t. Their reaction to the water is to run out (right into the jug).

  12. Please read this l a times blog entry on gophers (& ditto for moles): “Plant ecologist Paula Schiffman came to praise gophers when she packed a lecture last spring hosted by the Los Angeles chapter of the California Native Plant Society. It was awkward for the Cal State Northridge professor, given that most of the audience filling a cold, no-frills Santa Monica meeting room had come to learn how to kill the animals.”
    The answer? Live with them. They are good for soil and will always come back. Traps in many places are illegal because they are cruel.

  13. I use these and have been very successful. It’s the only way to kill the little critters with out poison and know that you got them. With a large plot it’s the only way to go. Check out youtube for some good instructional videos. Happy hunting.

  14. A friend in Idaho who was overrun with gophers had tried everthing to get rid of them. That is, until he got a local company to come in with a rodenator ( and get rid of them. The rodenator is a bit extreme (noise) but did work for my friend. However, I have read that using exhaust fumes from any gas engine, and venting them into the gopher tunnel(s) will also kill them. The carbon monoxide does the trick.

  15. Found your website and got all excited…….until……I saw the
    gofer trap! It looks absolutely cruel. Sorry – I won’t be back!

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