Trapping Gophers

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Trapping gophers: an activity for older children with parental supervision. Trapping is a skill that must be learned and is an ongoing activity. It teaches patience, persistence, and problem solving to children and adults alike. In this activity, children will learn how to rid the garden of gophers.

  • Supplies:
    • gopher traps from Trapline Products also sold as Gophinator traps on Ebay. These traps are proven to be very effective and are made of stainless steel which will last a very long time. Other trap options are available. (some of the best options are listed below)
    • wire or string
    • bright colored rag
    • shovel
    • gopher probe or long screwdriver (needs to be at least a foot long)
    • garden trowel or hori hori
    • gloves
    • peanut butter (optional)
  • Put gloves on to protect your hands and reduce the amount of human scent left on the traps.
  • Find the most recent gopher activity in your garden by locating a fresh “gopher mound”.
  • Use the gopher probe or screw driver to locate the gopher run. Do this by probing in a circle about six to twelve inches around the mound. You will know when you have found it because the probe will suddenly go down a couple inches without resistance.
  • Use the shovel to dig a hole down to the run.
  • Locate both sides of the run and open them up using the garden trowel or hori hori.
  • Tie two traps together with about two or three feet of wire or string. This will prevent the gopher from pulling the trap into the run where you can’t retrieve it.
  • Tie a bright colored rag to the middle of the wire or string to help relocate the traps when checking them.
  • (Optional) spread some peanut butter on the trap behind the trigger to attract the gopher and cover any human scent.
  • Set two traps according to the directions received with them.

  • Place a trap in each run. Make sure the entire trap is in the run
  • Cover up each run. A good method is to pull a clump of weeds and place it in the opening, then place dirt over that. This prevents dirt from spilling over your traps.
  • Leave the traps for twenty-four hours before checking them. If a gopher is caught dispose of it, reset the trap, and place in the run as before. Often there is more than one gopher active in a run and it’s a good idea to keep setting traps until two days have passed without a catch.
  • Trouble shooting:
    • Gophers will sometimes pack dirt around a trap if they sense danger. Simply remove the trap, dig back to the active run, reset the trap, and try again.
    • If traps go untouched for a few days move them to a more active site.
    • Set traps as soon as possible when new activity is detected.
    • Persistence, persistence, persistence!

 Here is a video showing you this trapping technique.


Trap options:

Trapline Products also sold as Gophinator traps on Ebay

Pros: It is stainless steel which keeps it working well even when left out in damp conditions. It catches the gophers on the first try if they trigger the trap (unlike Sweeny’s). This trap is recommended.

Cons: To work effectively you have to dig down and set a trap in both sides of a gopher run but this is the reality of using any traps that go inside the runs.  Be careful when setting because the spring is powerful and if you slip when setting i,t it can come back around and whack your fingers.

Gopherhawk Gopher Trap

Pros: Does not require digging with a shovel if you have softer soil. Requires only one trap per run. Includes a probe and digging device in the starter kit.

Cons: This trap is a little more expensive than some. This trap is relatively new and there have been some reports of breaking easily.


Victor The Black Box Gopher Trap 0625

The Black Box Gopher Trap

Pros: This trap is well designed and durable. You can set it on just the entry hole so you don’t have to do as much digging. You can visibly see when the trap is set. It kills cleanly. Stainless steel spring that doesn’t rust.

Cons: Gophers get shy of this trap and will fill it with dirt more often than traps set inside gopher runs.

Black Hole Gopher Trap

Black Hole Gopher Trap

Pros: A noose type trap with a powerful spring. It  fits the entrance of the holes nicely. It is easy to see when it is tripped without digging. It kills cleanly.

Cons: Gophers can become shy of this trap as well and fill it with dirt (it is similarly designed to black box gopher trap). There have been a number of off brand imitations of this trap claiming to be the real ones. These “knock offs” will break within a year. If you choose to use it, make sure you buy the real one.

Sweeney's Gopher Trap, 2 Pack S9013

Sweeney’s Gopher Trap

Pros: Some people swear by them. They are available at most hardware stores

Cons: They do not always kill and once a gopher survives will not go near another trap.


Pros: You can set these in just the entry hole.

Cons: They are not stainless steel and the trigger mechanism seems to stick sometimes.