In the fall and spring, many home owners and farmers suffer from strange developments in their yard or fields. Small mounds of dirt suddenly pop up all over the place. This is a sure sign of something happening underground. These mounds are caused by a common outdoor pest: the pocket gopher. Well documented in the 80’s comedy Caddy Shack, these underground menaces wreck havoc on well manicured lawns, fields and golfing greens. How do pocket gophers breathe underground? Pocket gophers require air to breath. They rely on loose, well venerated soil to continually replenish the air supply in their burrows.
Pocket gophers are a mammalian rodent that require air just like moles, mice, rats or squirrels. They can come to the surface, and in certain circumstances, they do. But being above ground makes them susceptible to many predators, so they often prefer the protection of their burrows. Hard packed soil can have much less oxygen, so they will often make larger burrows in this kind of soil. Alternatively, if the soil is too loose, it is hard to keep burrows from collapsing. Mounds are also a source of air. They will push excess dirt through an opening, and then when finished, they will plug the hole.
WHAT DO THEY EAT?
Pocket gophers are herbivores. This means that they consume plants and plant materials. They prefer bulbs or roots, but they will eat any kind of plant they can get. They will often clip the roots of plants and eat them, and often they will eat them down to the base of the plant. In some cases, they will pull the plant down into the tunnel and consume it. In some extreme cases, they will come above ground and eat plants. When they do this, they never get more than a body length away from their hole. Call your local Tulsa exterminator for help.
Pocket gophers are named for their pocket like structures in their teeth. They will chew off pieces of plant material, and then store it in the pockets of their cheeks. They are quite large and can carry a lot of plant material. They also have the unique ability to close their lips behind their teeth. This helps when chewing at roots, to not lose what is in their pocket cheeks.
LIFECYCLE OF A POCKET GOPHER
Gophers are solitary creatures. They do not hibernate and are active all year round. The only time that they interact with other gophers is during mating season. They will mate in late winter and have between one and three litters a year. These liters are usually five or six pups, and they stay with the mother until fully weaned. The male will also stay with the family for a few weeks before moving on to a new burrow.
After the pups are weaned, they will have to go start their own burrow. They do this by going above ground and finding a new place to burrow. This is very dangerous for the gopher, because they are easily preyed upon by raptors, coyotes, and other predators. Once they find an adequate spot, they will create their own burrow. Gophers are territorial, but they seldom fight when they meet. Usually they will simply burrow away from one another. Much of their time is spent digging, and this leaves very little energy for fighting. Your Oklahoma exterminator can help.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EFFECTS
Pocket gophers are important creatures to the ecosystem. They aerate the soil, mix deeper soil with the surface with their mounds, and provide food for predators. Aerating the soil brings oxygen for plants and their feces works as fertilizer as well. Their mounds can reduce erosion on hills and provide the perfect germination spot for many species of plants.
On the other hand, they also are very destructive to plants that they feed on. They can girdle, or eat a ring of bark around the base of trees and shrubs. Pocket gophers love bulbs and alfalfa, and can cause great amounts of damage to these plants. They disfigure and diminish the aesthetic of lawns and golf courses. Gophers can damage irrigation systems and outdoor plumbing.
Many different methods have been proposed to rid a yard of gophers. Of these methods, some are quite extreme. Many people have put a garden hose into the entry hole of a pocket gopher. This is usually ineffective, because they will just plug the hole. Some have tried fumigating by running a hose from their tail pipe into the hole, again causing the gopher to plug their burrow.
Some have tried pumping an explosive gas into their burrow and lighting it. As this is so quick that the pocket gopher can’t protect itself, it is very dangerous. It can lead to huge damage in lawns and personal injury. I strongly recommend not using any of these methods. Contact your local Oklahoma pest control company for help.
HOW TO GET RID OF POCKET GOPHERS
While there are over the counter solutions for pocket gopher issues, most of them are ineffective. Your best option to rid yourself of these pests for good is to call a good Tulsa pest control company and ask for help. TermMax Pest Control is highly experienced at the most effective and humane ways of eliminating these and other pests. We service the Tulsa area including Broken Arrow, Bixby, Owasso, Claremore, Catoosa, Coweta, Sand Springs, Pratville, Jenks and Sapulpa. Call today for a free estimate! We’re here to help!