Live Trapping Gophers

Sometimes trapping a gopher live is a preferred method. If you are a researcher, a non violent gardener or if you just want to catch and release, I have a trap and technique that works well. One thing about releasing gophers in other locations though, it can cause new problems in an environment or in the case of suburban release may even cause a major feud So if you are relocating a gopher be sure it is in an appropriate place.

There are a couple of other things to consider when handling a live gopher. First, gophers use their teeth like another hand and they will use them to grab on to things, including fingers. The way to handle a wild gopher is to transfer the animal in a way that doesn't require direct handling. You can also pick a gopher up like a kitten, by the scruff of the neck, some pick them up by the tail. I have heard of people actually taming a gopher and keeping it like a hamster or guinea pig and if you think about it they are similar. Lastly, gophers can not tolerate being in the trap for any length of time so the trap must be monitired carefully. The technique I will describe takes very little time and you should be able to catch a gopher in a half hour or so.

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The Gophers Limited Live Gopher Trap

The trap is a box trap that has a bottom mesh, one mesh end and a door that swings from the inside top down to the closed position. The trap is triggered when the gopher tries to close up the end from the light. Gophers will always plug up a burrow after they are done cleaning out and extending their burrow. This "plug" is usually very obvious in the center of the crescent shaped mound. Once opened, if the burrow is fresh, the gopher will close it. It is kind of like your front door. If you found it opened unexpectedly, you would wonder what happened and close it. The gopher is the same way and "closes" it by packing it full of soil. In this case it has to travel to the end of the box trap to do so. When it gets to the end it pushes on the mesh trigger and the rear door swings shut. When the gopher tries to get back out it closes the door more tightly.


Find the burrow plug - it is the circular area in the mound


Enlarge the opening so the trap is snug and not letting in light except at the end


Check the trap often and do not leave set for long periods of time


The key to making thas all happen quickly is to trap as soon after dawn as possible. That is when gophers are most active and often you will find burrow entrances already open and with very little effort the trap can be placed. Trapping in this period is not only the most productive time but also the time when the gophers ability to survive the trapping is greatest.

Good Luck and happy trapping. You can buy this trap at my web store or you can try to construct one yourself with the diagram below. The trap I sell is a very sturdy and well made trap and should last for generations.

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