Veggie Gardener Forum banner
1 - 2 of 2 Posts

· Registered
1 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As a vegetable gardener I just went through a very difficult period...watching my crops dye off, raised bed by raised bed. I thought I'd share on a couple of garden boards my 3 week ordeal of trying to eradicate a pocket gopher that devastated my garden so that you can learn from my difficulties.

First off it started with a couple of my young bean plants disappearing over night. What could it be I thought? Insects/snails couldn't eat that much in a single night. And mice usually left remnants behind. Still I put out the baited mouse traps that night. Next morning several traps were sprung, bait was gone. But then I noticed my beets were wilted. I pulled one up and noticed a tunnel below about the size of a quarter in diameter. The bottom of the beet was gone and small teeth marks were apparent. Hmmm...never had an underground mouse. After reading on the internet I eliminated a mole since they like worms and grubs. This guy was clearly eating vegetables. Lots of them. I was convinced it was a Vole. A small mouse like rodent that likes vegetables. I put more surface traps out, and a couple of rat traps seeing that the bait was gone from the previous mouse traps. This plan continued for about a week. During that time I snared a couple of tree rats but watched as this underground creature ate everything in my raised bed and then moved on to the next one killing the contents of the next.
Leaf Terrestrial plant Leaf vegetable Vegetable Petal

Grass Leaf vegetable Groundcover Soil Annual plant

Back to the internet for solutions. I wasn't ready to use poison. I frowned on the idea of putting poison into my organic garden soil. And leaving it out for other animals like birds to accidentally eat seemed like a very bad idea. After all he didn't seem to be eating the apples and peanut butter I put on the surface. He was enjoying gourmet vegetables. By the end of the second week he had cleared out all my beans, my dragon carrots, golden beets, radishes (all three varieties), and had now invaded the first of my tomato boxes killing the first of 3 plants. This was war. In a matter of 14 days he had erased my efforts since October. I built some bait traps made with 2" PVC with poison in it and inserted them into the tunnels I uncovered. This contained the poison and prevented others animals in the environment from reaching it.
3 more days and he hadn't touched the poison. Several of the PVC pipes were filled with soil. Time to call a professional exterminator to see if they had something up their sleeve. During that time he had now cleared out two 3 feet by 8 feet garden beds and was working his way through the 3rd. The exterminator really had nothing to offer but felt my pain. He saw the pride of my garden and the devastation. Strychnine was his only weapon but agreed not a good plan for an organic garden area. He also questioned if it was a vole. He thought it might be a pocket gopher. He also suggested that tunnels were likely between my raised beds. I told him I had saw a product that used carbon monoxide from your car's tail pipe. He said, "yeah, that might be worth a try. Let me know if it works". Although he could not offer a solution reclassifying my enemy proved helpful. 3 consecutive days of CO fumigation with car exhaust did nothing.
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Hood Light

I again started reading everything I could about pocket gophers. Each day he continued his rampage. Now killing several of the cucumber plants. After researching further I agreed with the exterminator. This was a gopher not a vole. Gophers are solo animals. Plugging and sealing any open tunnels, which I had seen during my probing. Each time I uncovered a tunnel I would find it later plugged with soil. They don't like light coming in and it protects their tunnel system from predators. Voles in contrast seem to leave entry/exit tunnel open for quick get away. They also are a more social animal...several of them living in the same tunnel system. Visions of Bill Murray the grounds keeper in Caddy Shack danced in my head. I could see this war escalating to explosives. I already kept the pellet rifle nearby in case this guy poked his head up.
The story ends on a happy note. Good for me at least....not so good for my unwanted guest. I trapped him using a mechanical spring trap. A medieval looking device that is a tube with a guillotine wire connected to a spring actuated by a lever. I watched a Youtube video of a researcher from the university of Nebraska on how to plant the traps. I dug down one of the lateral tunnels I found and partially buried the trap. Sure enough the next day I found the trap sprung with a tail hanging out of it. He had crawled inside trying to seal the light coming in the other end. Victory. I literally raised my arms and danced around.
Circuit component Wood Gas Grass Metal

Brown Wood Terrestrial animal Snout Natural material

All told I spent over $200 on traps, bait, and such. The key is to identify your pest correctly. And don't give up. I hope this short story enlightens other gardeners. Since it is May I still have some time to recover and get some plants back into the ground. But any gardener can surely feel the pain.


· Registered
135 Posts
I'm glad you caught him!! It is so sad to read about all of your hard work being destroyed. I have insects, rabbits, chip monks, squirrels, and birds to contend with. It is so hard to resist putting poison down in my organic garden. I've got so much netting in place it's a wonder the sun reaches anything. I hope your garden recovered from his destruction.
1 - 2 of 2 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.