What Do Gophers Eat: Lure Them with Favorite Foods

Thorough guide to understanding what do gophers eat, including all types of plants and tips on identifying gophers' outbreak
By
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
reviewed
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: December 22, 2022
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At first glance, gophers seem like cute, furry, harmless creatures, but it’s all deception. They are certainly not harmless. These pesky rodents are notorious for chewing on any plant and vegetable they can get their teeth on. Interestingly, gophers never stop chewing until there’s nothing left.

So, if you grow vegetables in your garden or backyard, they are vulnerable to these pests. Thankfully, you can get rid of gophers with traps and poisons, but you will need the right bait, bringing us to the all-important question; what do gophers eat? We already hinted that these rodents are big fans of plants and vegetables, but certain species are their favorites.

Identify Gophers

Like every rodent, gophers don’t have one specie. They have many different species, including pocket gophers, stripped gophers, etc., that  you can find across the United States and North America. However, pocket gophers are the most popular specie around.

Pocket vs regular

What Do Gophers Eat: Lure Them with Favorite Foods

In the western hemisphere, there are 34 species of pocket gophers, represented by five genera. In the US, you will find 13 species, including California pocket gophers, and three genera,  according to the Wildlife Damage Management Trusted Source Pocket Gophers – Wildlife Damage Management Pocket gophers are fossorial (burrowing) rodents, so named because they have fur-lined pouches outside of the mouth, one on each side of the face. wildlife-damage-management.extension.org . Although these genera have differently sized claws and forefeet, they have a major similarity.

All pocket gophers have unique pouches on their cheeks, known as pockets. The pests use these pockets to transport food for storage. In a study, the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management Program mentioned that  pocket gophers are well-equipped for a digging lifestyle Trusted Source Pocket Gophers Management Guidelines--UC IPM UC home and landscape guidelines for control of Pocket Gophers. ipm.ucanr.edu , thanks to their large-clawed front paws, strong forequarters, and other special features.

On the other hand, regular gophers do not have pouches on their cheeks and are not as strong as pocket gophers, making them less popular. Nevertheless, they are also destructive. So, you can’t let them off the hook.

Besides, you can turn to repellents to drive the gophers away from your home. There are many options on the market, but the Gopher Scram Professional repellent stands out thanks to its effective formula. It works by chasing gophers away with a strong scent and bad taste.

If you want to see more options, here’s a list of the best gopher repellents you can check out.

What Plants do Gophers Eat

What do pocket gophers eat? What do striped gophers eat? What do California pocket gophers eat? You’ll get answers to these questions and more in this section.

Perennial ragweed

What Do Gophers Eat: Lure Them with Favorite Foods

Perennial ragweed is an Ambrosia specie that grows a slender, straw-colored, branching stem and lance-shaped/nearly oval leaves. This weed’s leaves and stem are hairy. Many governments consider perennial ragweed problematic because it is strongly competitive and reduces crop production. For example, Australia’s Victoria State Government  prohibits the weed Trusted Source Perennial ragweed | State prohibited weeds | Weeds | Biosecurity | Agriculture Victoria Perennial ragweed is a State prohibited weed. Perennial ragweed is not found in Victoria, but there are established populations in NSW that remain a threat. agriculture.vic.gov.au .

Unsurprisingly, the notorious gophers like to eat perennial ragweed. However, you should know that the weed exhibits highly allergenic pollen. So, be careful when you use it as bait.

Prairie junegrass

What Do Gophers Eat: Lure Them with Favorite Foods

Prairie junegrass – is a native grass that fares well in dry environments. The tall grass features buds that may be stripped green and red. While it is commonly used to stop soil erosion and reclaim land, several animals find it as their favorite food. Those animals include gophers.

Once you get one of the best gopher traps with suitable sensitivity, wrap strands of prairie junegrass. You have reliable bait right there.

Fragile prickly pear

What Do Gophers Eat: Lure Them with Favorite Foods

Fragile prickly pear is a small prostate plant found in dry, thin soil over slopes of granitic bedrock. The plant is delicate and easily detachable, as its name suggests. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, fragile prickly pear blooms from early June through late July and fruits from early July through late August. The plant is a favorite of gophers.

Needle and thread grass

What food do gophers eat? Needle and thread grass. It is a perennial plant that grows in bunches. Like most plants gophers eat, this grass flourishes in dry, sandy soils. It grows up to four feet and is commonly used in land rehabilitation and reclamation. Nevertheless, gophers like to bite on needle and thread grass.

Sweet clover

What Do Gophers Eat: Lure Them with Favorite Foods

Sweet clover is a biennial plant that grows in two forms; yellow and white flowered. There’s little difference between both forms. Besides, sweet clover is aggressive once it establishes itself.

Scouring rush

What Do Gophers Eat: Lure Them with Favorite Foods

What bulbs do gophers not eat? Scouring rush bulbs. Scouring rush is a grass that looks like green reeds. It is native to North America and grows wild on rangelands. Also, the grass grows well in hot, sunny climates. And it develops thick clusters on its stems. Gophers like eating these clusters.

Kentucky bluegrass

What is a gopher’s favorite food? Kentucky bluegrass. It is a slow-growing grass found in the northeastern part of the US. This grass boasts a unique flavor that makes it many animals’ favorite. You bet gophers are in the group of animals that like Kentucky bluegrass.

Prickly pear cactus

What Do Gophers Eat: Lure Them with Favorite Foods

What do gophers like to eat? Prickly pear cactus. It is a flowering plant with stripped leaves. Predictably, prickly pear cactus grows on dry ground and is suited to extreme temperatures. You’ll find it in dunes, rocky outcrops, and hedgerows. This flowering plant is suitable for planting gopher poison. If you can’t decide on a poison to use, our list of the best gopher poisons offers effective options.

Other plants

Apart from the plants mentioned above, other plants you can use to bait gophers include mosquito grass, Alfalfa, dandelions, etc. Besides, the highly rated Wilco Gopher Getter Type 2 Bait seems like a good fit if you want an inorganic bait. Trusted by many users, this bait is ideal for pocket gophers and remains active for up to 27 days.

FAQ

We’ll answer the most pressing question regarding gophers’ diet.

What do gophers eat in the winter?

Mostly plants that can withhold low temperatures under ground. Sweet clover survives over winter as a tap root.

What do gophers eat underground?

The large tap root of the sweet clover. It grows deep and is a delicious meal. It is also easy to drag out and have as a gopher bait.

What do baby gophers eat?

Baby gophers are born blind and can’t eat anything more than mother’s milk. Later their diet will include solid yet soft foods like worms and small insects, even some roots will do.

What foods do gophers avoid?

The following plants are safe to have in your yard since gophers do not like their taste:

  • Society garlic
  • Salvias
  • Fortnight lily
  • Hellebores
  • Daylilies
  • Nandina
  • Verbascum
  • Lily of the Nile
  • Monkey flower

Final Thoughts

You can’t allow gophers to get comfortable around you because all they know is destruction. It’s a good thing that there are many solutions to the menace. This article has provided several plants that gophers like. These plants make excellent baits if you plan to set gopher traps. If you don’t want to go the route of traps, you can opt for the poison option to kill the pests.

Alternatively, you can go for gopher repellents to make your space unattractive to these rodents. If you want to avoid the expenses of repellents, you should go for plants gophers hate. Plants such as nandina, fortnight lily, daylilies, hellebores, monkey flower, and verbascum can drive gophers away from you. So, what do gophers eat? This article has all the answers.

References

1.
Pocket Gophers – Wildlife Damage Management
Pocket gophers are fossorial (burrowing) rodents, so named because they have fur-lined pouches outside of the mouth, one on each side of the face.
2.
Pocket Gophers Management Guidelines--UC IPM
UC home and landscape guidelines for control of Pocket Gophers.
3.
Perennial ragweed | State prohibited weeds | Weeds | Biosecurity | Agriculture Victoria
Perennial ragweed is a State prohibited weed. Perennial ragweed is not found in Victoria, but there are established populations in NSW that remain a threat.
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