The most common gopher in Arizona is the Botta’s Pocket Gopher. Also known as the valley pocket gopher, these rodents are known for burrowing through the ground and tearing up plants, lawns, irrigation and anything else below the surface. It is often very easy to spot a pocket gopher problem on your property by their signature mounds created & plugged while burrowing. Typically feeding on roots, grasses, and green plants, pocket gophers can easily leave your backyard looking like an old battlefield.
Arizona pocket gophers are excellent diggers, creating an elaborate system of tunnels that can run hundreds of feet just below the surface, however some may reach several feet down. While the tunnels are only a few inches in diameter, pocket gophers will create larger chambers used for breeding dens or storing food.
As they dig through the ground with their teeth and claws, they kick the dirt back out through the hole at ground level, creating a crescent or fanned pile surrounding their entrance. Since they spend most of their time underground, they will also plug this hole to keep intruders out.
The tunnel systems don’t expand outward very far, usually not exceeding 50 feet, so the longer tunnels, or runways, zig and zag throughout their territory. This can lead to a very porous yard, with sections collapsing and root systems being interrupted and destroyed (those they don’t get to directly through feeding).
Trial & Error
Attempting to flood the pocket gopher lair can work. However, this can just end up in small sinkholes when the water doesn’t simply evaporate in the dry Arizona heat. You also may spend a lot of time chasing around newly formed mounds with a garden hose before you realize you’re actually making the job of digging easier on the gopher by softening the ground for them.
Poison bombs are rarely effective as they tend not to reach many parts of the complex tunnel system. Other poison baits can be effective when used correctly, but gophers can be very picky when it comes to what they eat, and may never take the bait at all.
There are several traps available on the market to address gopher problem in Arizona yards. However, it does take a good amount of work to do it correctly. By locating fresh mounds, you can lay traps within the tunnels near the entrance/exit. This may take a lot of trial and error in order to set the trap just right, in the correct location, and a bit of luck that the rodent hits the trap as intended. And, if you disrupt the tunnel, gophers may be wary of approaching it, thus abandoning it to create yet another hole in the ground.
An Experienced Approach
Certain movies may have made a joke of how difficult it is to get rid of gophers, but there is definitely truth to it. The best solution is contacting a professional that is experienced in identifying, locating, and removing gophers from your lawn. If you want effective gopher removal in Phoenix, your best bet is to trust those with proven success over the years.