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The Top Three Gopher Traps

Black box trap

Gopher control always means gopher killing. It is simply not possible to trap and release a gopher elsewhere, because the fast metabolism of the animal would cause it to expire of hunger and thirst before it could be released from the trap. The best way to dispatch a gopher is with a sharp, mechanical stabbing action or with an electric shock, sparing it any suffering and removing it from your yard.

We prefer the Victor 0625 Black box Gopher Trap for killing gophers. It kills the gopher very quickly, and there is a minimum of blood and gore to clean up, or to attract predators that might take the dead gopher and your trap with them if it is not staked down. The Victor Black box trap takes a little more work to set, but it is far easier to reuse after the kill.

For a little lower cost per unit but about the same cost per gopher, we also recommend the older-style mechanical traps such as Sweeney’s Gopher Trap, which impales the gopher to ensure quick death, and the Victor 0611 Easy Set Gopher Trap Twin-Pack, which kills the gopher with a quick pincer action. These mechanical traps cost less up front, but they don’t last as long and require more maintenance. Still, if you live in an especially damp climate, you may prefer mechanical gopher traps that work even during heavy rains.

There is no reason not to use all three devices, just in case the gophers on your property have become “trap wise” to one but not the others. Also be sure to buy heavy gloves to wear when you handle the traps to mask your scent. The consumer product reviews we have posted with these products give the information you need to use each one even more effectively than you can following the manufacturer’s printed instructions.

Why We Recommend for Gopher Traps

Gopher traps are something of a specialty item. Even the largest home supply centres often don’t carry them. We recommend that you shop (#ad) for the best selection and the lowest price, with free shipping for orders over $25.

You can quickly go to any part of this review by clicking on the links below.

Table of Contents

#1 – Our Top Choice – Victor 0625 The Black Box Gopher Trap

#2 – Sweeney’s Gopher Trap

#3 – Victor 0611 Easy Set Gopher Trap Twin-Pack

By far the best gopher trap I’ve ever tried

Victor 0625 BlackBox

The Victor 0625 Black Box Gopher Trap (#ad) is by far the most effective way of trapping gophers fast, that I have ever tried, but the instructions that come with it aren’t the greatest. If you don’t know these essentials, then it is more or less a matter of luck. If you do, you will be well on your way to catching them fast.

  1. The gopher trap only works in an established gopher tunnel. You can locate the tunnels with a sharp metal tool. Locate a gopher hole, and then test the ground in all directions about a foot away from the hole until it slips through with minimal distance, about a foot down. That’s where the tunnel is, and that’s where you need to put the trap.
  2. Never, ever pick up the trap with your bare hands, whether they are washed or unwashed. You’ll leave your scent on the trap and the gophers will just dig around it. I didn’t know this the first time I tried to use a gopher trap and I didn’t get results with my first one.
  3. Have a stake ready when you set out your trap. (No, this isn’t in case you come across a vampire gopher.) At least where I live, coyotes will smell, dig up, and carry away the trap, if there’s a gopher in it and it’s not staked into the ground. The stake also needs to be handled with gloved hands.
  4. Just in case it’s not clear, and the first time I tried to use the Victor 0625 Black Box Trap (#ad), it wasn’t to me, the opening of the trap has to be in line with the direction of the tunnel, so that a gopher seeking to go topside would go into the trap. If you put the trap in sideways you aren’t going to catch any gophers.
  5. Don’t pack dirt over the trap. Too much weight on the trap interferes with the spring mechanism. I find it easiest to use a shoebox with a flap cut out of the box sticking above the ground so I can unearth the trap easily for inspection, but, again, you can’t have used to the box to have stored shoes you have already worn.
  6. Leave the trap in place overnight before checking, but don’t leave it more than 24 hours without inspecting it. If the trap has been filled in with dirt, pick it up with gloves on your hands, shake it out, and set it somewhere else. You can fool a gopher once but you probably can’t fool a gopher twice.
  7. You can catch more than one gopher in the same location if the trap isn’t filled in. I notice other reviewers say they wash out the trap between uses, but I never do this.
  8. Be on the lookout for gopher holes near soft dirt, such as where you recently put in a water pipe or the power company put in an electric line. Gophers like to dig in loose dirt, and they like to gnaw on insulation. Sure, gnawing off the insulation on an electrical line will also kill the gopher, but it’s better to trap it first so your lights don’t go out.

This is one of the best pincer or pincher traps. It costs a little more, but it’s a lot easier and safer to use, and it works. Follow this link to read customer reviews and get the best price for the Black Box Trap on Amazon (#ad).

Sweeney’s Gopher Trap Review

Sweeneys Gopher Trap

A Lethally Efficient Gopher-Killing Device

Sweeney’s Gopher Traps don’t just kill gophers. They run them through so there’s no chance of escape. It is a quick death, so as killing animals goes, it is a humane death, but I’ve found that getting good results requires more than one trap.

Just as the manufacturer’s diagram shows, it’s important to set out at least three traps per tunnel, one trap on either side of a dig about a foot away from the tunnel opening (in the tunnel, of course), so there is a trap to capture the gopher no matter which way it is going, and a trap in the tunnel as goes up to the surface.

It may seem like obvious advice, but it wasn’t obvious to me: When you are setting the trap in the entrance to the tunnel, you put it on the lower side of the entrance. Don’t try to stake it upside down.

How many gophers can you trap with the Sweeney Gopher Trap? Using 3 traps per tunnel and dealing with 8 tunnels, I have caught over 100 gophers in the last month. Obviously, it’s better to tackle the problem before you get this many of the little pests in your yard, but this gopher trap doesn’t require any poisons, doesn’t endanger kids or pets, and is a heck of a lot cheaper than some of the alternatives. I just wish I had started my gopher control project a lot sooner.

One of the best places to buy Sweeney’s Gopher traps is on Amazon (#ad). You can read customer reviews and quickly compare prices.

Victor 0611 Easy Set Gopher Trap Twin-Pack Review

Victor 0611 easy set gopher trap

A great buy for the money but needs gentle treatment

If you are looking to get rid of a lot of gophers without rototilling to get rid of grass roots, putting out poisons that can kill pets or wildlife, electric gopher zappers, electric fences, sonic devices that can drive your dog crazy, flooding, flame throwers, car exhaust, or nuclear weapons, the Victor 0611 is a good way to go. I give this product five stars, but that’s because I have learned how to use it efficiently. It takes a little practice to use this trap right, but once you do, the low cost and ease of use make it a real winner.

The most important thing to realize about the Victor 0611 is that easy to set means easy to break. It’s important not to apply too much pressure when you are bending the wires that engage the trigger. Also, after half a dozen uses or so the pinchers begin to come loose, so you’ll probably need to replace the trap. And if you don’t stake the trap, the gopher’s dying act may be to carry the trap farther into the tunnel out of your reach, or at least requiring you to do a lot of digging to retrieve the trap.

No matter. At this price, it’s OK if the trap wears out after it’s caught 10 gophers. The only other thing I can think of is to be sure to replace the sod over the tunnel where you lay the trap. If you give the gophers a skylight they won’t trip the trap.

Check out other reviews, read more details about the trap and buy the Victor easy set trap on Amazon (#ad).

Filed Under: ReviewsTagged With: rodents, traps


Q: I have gophers in my yard. How do I get rid of them?

A: As a master gardener, I think this is the most commonly-asked question at our “Ask a Master Gardener” information table.

Gophers are tricky to eliminate. If you have a single gopher digging in a flat part of your yard, you can use a garden hose to flood him out of his hole. If you have a more extensive problem, you can use either a Macabee or Black Hole trap. Locate the main tunnel by probing the ground near the pile of pulverized dirt. Use a hand trowel to dig out and expose a one- or two-foot section of tunnel. Set two traps and place them back-to-back into the tunnel. If you are using Macabee traps, secure them to a stake or other stable object with a 2-3-foot-long piece of twine. This prevents an injured gopher from walking away with your trap.

Place a board over your hole and wait. If you are lucky, you will trap one within a few hours. Don’t forget to check your traps regularly. If you forget for a day or two, you will have a disgusting mess in your trap. With practice, you will become an expert at trapping gophers.

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Q: I was cleaning out my shed and I found a good-sized pile of empty snail shells in the back corner. Where did they come from?

A: The good news is that you have fewer snails in your yard. The bad news is that you have rats in your shed. Believe it or not, even rats have their good qualities. They are remarkably intelligent. They are a major food source for owls, hawks, snakes, coyotes and other predators. They also eat snails, as you now know.

Despite their endearing qualities, you probably don’t want them living in your shed. In this case, prevention is best. Most importantly, secure any food sources in rodent-proof containers. An example of a rodent-proof container would be a metal trash can with a secure lid. If you don’t have a regular food source available, rats are less likely to linger.

Resist the temptation to poison. If a rat encounters a dead comrade, he will sniff the other rat to determine what he last ate. Then he will avoid eating anything that smells like the dead rat. If you kill a rat with a snap trap, blood will sometimes get on the trap. Rats are repelled by the smell of rat blood, so your snap trap loses effectiveness.

Another reason to avoid poison is that it affects other wildlife and pets. Anticoagulant poison has been found in owls and other birds of prey, coyotes, scavengers like condors and vultures, bobcats and mountain lions. Widespread use of anticoagulant rodenticides has become a significant threat to wildlife.

So, is there a humane, effective way to control rats? Electrocution traps are very effective and environmentally friendly. They are reusable and you can dispose of the dead rodent without touching it. They can be found in most farm supply stores and garden centers.

Have gardening questions? Email [email protected]

Looking for more gardening tips? Here’s how to contact the Master Gardener program in your area.

Los Angeles County

[email protected]; 626-586-1988;

Orange County

[email protected]; 949-809-9760;

Riverside County

[email protected]; 951-683-6491 ext. 231;

San Bernardino County

[email protected]; 909-387-2182;

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How To Trap A Gopher

A 5-Step Do-It-Yourself Process

For all you DIY-enthusiasts, what follows is a five-step process to gopher trapping and removing moles or other rodents from your property: we are going to teach you how to make a homemade gopher trap.


gopher damage in lawn in napa valley ca

We call this Trapping 101. That’s because catching a gopher or mole is not difficult — if you have lots of time and can afford to lose a few plants along the way.

A word of caution, however: Gophers are smart critters. And without realizing it, your efforts to trap them can actually train them to outsmart you.

There's more on that, below.

But first, the five steps on how to catch a gopher with a homemade trap:

Step One: Locate the tunnel. Take a probe (a long screw driver will do),and insert it in the ground around a gopher mound until you feel the tunnel.

Step Two: Open the tunnel. Using a small spade or trowel, open the burrow, being careful not to let loose soil fall down the hole. Excavate all of the loose soil you can as far as you can reach in each direction in the gopher’s tunnel.

Step Three: Set the traps. Set a gopher trap in each direction in the tunnel, following the manufacturer’s directions. We like the Gophinator Trap by Trapline Products. Your local garden center will also carry McAbee or Victor traps, which are effective if set carefully.

Step Four: Mark your traps. Stake down the traps with a spike or a marking flag so they stay put and are easy to find later, and then close the hole carefully.

Step Five: Check the traps the next day and remove the dead animals.

Smart Gopher Alert!

When a gopher escapes a trap, or detects one before the trap is even set off, it gains experience in trap evasion and becomes much harder to catch on the next set.

What’s more, if a gopher detects a trap, it will pack the trap full of dirt and re-route its tunnel. The more a gopher survives encounters with traps, the more it becomes “trap shy.”

(Like we said, smart.)

If your aim is to catch gophers and remove them from your property using this DIY approach, we recommend that you let a trap-shy gopher rest for a week or more before trying to catch it again.

We’re Here to Help

If you’ve exhausted every DIY approach to getting rid of gophers and still find the critters have outwitted you and continue to make their home on your property, take heart. Effective trapping takes skill and know-how, and most people eventually turn the job over to a professional to trap gophers and other pests.

As our clients throughout Northern California have discovered, we’re not your average gopher-trapping service provider. Here are just a few reasons why:

Licensed: Our extensive list of licenses includes a State Trapper’s License, Qualified Pesticide Applicator’s License, and a State Pest Control Business License.

Poison-free: We get rid of gophers and moles without using any poisons, ever.

Highly effective: We eliminate the toughest ground squirrel problems using both conventional and nontoxic methods.

Locally owned: Our team of gopher service specialists are always nearby and can respond to your needs quickly — often in as little as 24 hours or less.

We offer a satisfaction guarantee for the services we provide you. Our professional customer service and friendly staff will make sure you have an amazing experience when we come to your location to trap and remove the gophers that have been damaging your property. If you are in anyway unhappy with our service, let us know and we will do our best to make everything right in the end.

To schedule critter removal of any kind from your property, contact us today. 


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