Gophers live and spend most of their time underground in tunnels, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t many animals for gophers to be afraid of!
In the wild, a gopher is most likely to be eaten by a snake, badger, or coyote, but gophers are also caught by birds of prey, skunks, and weasels. In urban areas, where many people live, a gopher’s biggest threats are humans, dogs and cats.
Gophers are very vulnerable to predators and have no effective way to protect themselves from these creatures. Knowing what eats gophers and what gophers are afraid of will give you many natural, poison-free ways to keep gophers out of your yard.
A list of everything that eats gophers
Gophers are often killed by predators when they come above ground, such as owls, hawks, or foxes. Many animals dig gophers out of their tunnels to eat them, such as badgers, dogs, and skunks. Some predators, like snakes and weasels, can enter a gopher’s tunnels and eat the gopher in its own home.
Here’s the full list of birds and animals that eat gophers:
- Owls, such as barn owls
- Ringtail cats
- Skunks (spotted and striped)
- Snakes, such as bull snakes, gopher snakes, rattlesnakes
Click here to find out how to identify a gopher (and make sure you don’t have a groundhog in your yard).
What are gophers afraid of?
Gophers are very easy to attack, and they get attacked often.
To avoid being killed and eaten, there are a few thing gophers are afraid of and stay far away from. You can use these things in your yard to scare away gophers naturally:
Gophers are scared of pets
Gophers are afraid of being attacked by pets, especially cats and dogs.
To make a gopher think that there are pets on your property, put dog or cat hair near to the gopher’s mounds.
If you can, let your pets urinate near to the mounds too, so the gopher can smell the threat. Or drop some of your pet’s droppings into the entrance to the gopher’s tunnel.
Gophers are scared of pulses under the ground
Sonic pulses are short sound waves that have a very high intensity and then disappear quickly – much like the sound you hear when a fighter jet flies over you in the sky.
Gophers don’t understand and are scared of sonic pulses, and if they hear these pulses underground, they stay far away from the area.
You can create sonic pulses in your yard with these waterproof sonic spikes from Amazon. Just push the spikes into damp soil, and each stake will scare away gophers for up to 7,500 square feet with sonic pulses every 30 seconds.
The spikes above use batteries. If you want solar-powered stakes, these make a great alternative: Thanos Solar Repellent Stakes.
Gophers hate the smell, taste, and feel of castor oil
Gophers are repelled by the smell, taste, and feel of these castor oil pellets from Amazon. Simply spread the granules wherever there’s soil, such as on your lawn or in your flower beds, and water to help the granules soak into the ground.
This product is eco-friendly, biodegradable, and is not poisonous to people, plants, birds, or animals. It cannot be spread anywhere that you grow food, such as in vegetable gardens or orchards.
The castor oil will keep gophers away for up to 60 days, so be sure to spread the granules every 2 to 3 months.
If you don’t want to use pellets and would prefer to use castor oil that’s sprayed with a garden hose, try this popular Tomcat ready-to-spray product.
Gophers are scared of barn owls
If you have the space and lots of gophers in your backyard, you can take steps to attract barn owls to your property. Gophers are scared of barn owls because a family of these owls can eat many hundreds of gophers every year!
To attract barn owls:
- Don’t cut down trees or horizontal branches on trees. The owls sit on these branches and watch, waiting for gophers to leave their underground nests.
- Put up a nesting box to give the owls somewhere safe to live. Place the nest in an open area, where there aren’t a lot of trees growing. The nest needs to be at least 15 feet high, with the opening protected from the sun and wind.
- Turn off as many lights as possible, to make the area dark outside. Barn owls are active at night, and they don’t like artificial lights that light them up and make it harder for them to hunt.
- Don’t ever put poison down for gophers to eat if you have barn owls or other birds of prey in your area. The gophers will eat the poison, and this will then poison the birds when they eat the gophers.
Are gophers aggressive?
Gophers are not aggressive and would rather avoid all confrontation if possible. But they must try to protect themselves when they need to.
Gophers may show signs of aggression or bite when feeling threatened. When under attack, a gopher will lift the front of its body and show its claws, to make itself look bigger and scarier. The gopher will also raise its head and show its teeth, while making panting sounds as a warning.
A gopher only has its claws and teeth to defend itself and protect its home. While this aggressive behavior might scare away other gophers, ground squirrels and rodents, it is not very good at frightening or hurting larger predators.
If a gopher is attacked, the gopher is most likely going to die and be eaten.
What if your dog eats a gopher?
Many dogs enjoy digging out or chasing gophers in the backyard. And because gophers are such easy prey, the dog is most likely going to kill and eat the gopher.
But gophers often carry diseases, ticks, and fleas, which they can pass on to your dog. Also, if the gopher has eaten poisonous bait that you or one of your neighbor’s put down to kill the gopher, then your dog is very likely to swallow this poison with the gopher.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, rodent poisons are one the leading causes of poisoning in pets. Some poisons are more toxic than others, so if your dog has killed or eaten a gopher, it’s best to take your dog to the vet immediately for help.
The following are symptoms of poisoning in dogs:
- Blood in stool or urine
- Bruising or bleeding, such as nose bleeds or bleeding gums – but these symptoms can take days to show
- Coughing up blood
If you or your neighbors have pets, it’s safer to never use baits or poisons to kill gophers in your backyard.