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What do Gophers Eat?

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Gophers are disruptive to many lawn and garden areas in the in the United States and their impact is noticeable in the mounds left behind and the plants they eat. Many landscapers, homeowners, and gardeners wondering what exactly gophers eat and what can be done to stop them from destroying their yard. We will go over what these pesky critters eat and what you can do to stop them from ruining your yard.

Gophers are Herbivories and prefer eating plants. Here are a gopher’s favorite foods: roots, tubers (like potatoes), grasses, and seeds. They are drawn to alfalfa, dandelions, bulbs, carrots, onions, garlic, perennial ragweed, sweet clover, pricky pear cacti, and many types of flowering plants.

If you have issues with these pesky and have one or more of the above plants, then you might consider protecting your lawn or garden by blocking their ability to burrow below your landscape. Using a physical barrier called Gopher Wire below your lawn or garden will provide excellent protection and make gophers unable to access your yard.

View our Selection of Gopher Wire >

Here is a map of where Pocket Gophers proliferate in various regions in the United States.

map of areas in the united states where gophers live

Photo credit https://icwdm.org

Preventing Gophers in California

California is a hot spot for gopher activity and one of the best ways to get rid of gophers in your area is to prevent them in the first place. Using a high quality dipped galvanized or stainless steel ¾” hexagonal mesh will ensure that they don’t bother your plants or landscape for the next 6-15 years. Unfortunately, a standard weed barrier fabric will not provide the protection that is required to prevent gophers from intruding.
If you’re interested in exactly what kinds of plants gophers eat and want to remove these from your yard then read on.

Plants Gophers Prefer to Eat:

Needle and thread grass, is a perennial that grows in bunches and is perfect for dry, sandy soils. It looks similar to dry tangle beard. Needle and thread grass is considered a species that is on the edge of becoming extinct in the very near future according to the International Union of Conservation of Nature. It's a favorite grass in land reclamation and rehabilitation.

Scouring Rush, is a native grass in North America and looks very much like long, green reeds. It grows in rangelands and is at home in hot, sunny climates and pastures. Scouring grass grows in dunes, open wooded areas, roadside ditches, and pastures. It's in the horsetail family and grows dense clusters on its stems. Many years ago, people used this plant, due to its thick clusters, as scouring pads which is how the plant got its name.

Mosquito Grass, is a small grass that's grown in the central United States. This is a lovely grass with graceful blue and gray striped leaves and small purple flowers that appear during the summer months. It flourishes in dry soil and is an important food source in the wild. There are many people who grow this grass for ornamental purposes.

Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus, is a succulent that has striped leaves and produces flowers. This is the largest array of cactus in the United States. It grows in dry, open ground, and can withstand extreme heat as well as cold temperatures. You can find them in rocky, outcrops, dunes, and hedgerows. Hedgerows are closely spaced shrubs, and in some cases, trees are planted to form a barrier or a boundary.
According to a study out of Nebraska, researchers found that prickly pear cactus is the most important food source for gophers in the Midwest.

Prairie Junegrass, is a variety of grass found in North America. It also grows in the United Kingdom but is called crested hair grass. It grows in dry, sandy environments. This is a tall perennial plant that flowers in the months of June and July with red and green striped buds. These perennial flowers in June and July. This plant is often used to prevent erosion and is an important food source for many animals.

Kentucky bluegrass, It grows low to the ground and is native to the northeastern area of the United States. It's usually found in pastures and can tolerate frequent grazing along with different soils and weather conditions. Kentucky bluegrass is a favorite food among many animals, especially cattle. It got its name because of its blue-green color.

What Do Gophers Eat?
Gophers eat a variety of foods including all plants including grass, trees, roots, seeds, shrubs, and tubers. They have also been known to eat vegetables, especially peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic. Although they have eaten insects from time to while eating grass, in general, they do not hunt for them.