How to Catch a Gopher with a Live Trap

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How to Catch a Gopher with a Live Trap

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Keith's Pro Tips

"Don't be discouraged if you notice gopher damage but can't spot the gopher. These creatures are almost always underground using the tunnels they created."

How to Catch a Gopher with a Live Trap

The gopher is also known as the "pocket gopher". This name comes from their cheek "pockets" that are used for storing food. Regardless of the name you use, this rodent can cause severe damage to your property. They have sharp claws and large teeth that can easily destroy a garden. One method of removing a gopher from your property is using a live trap to catch and release the animal. Live trapping is a safe and effective way to keep animals away from your home.

If you want to catch a gopher with a live trap, read this guide for instructions and product recommendations.


Before using a live trap, you need to make sure that the wild animal you are dealing with is a gopher. This will ensure that you are using the correct bait and strategies.


Gophers are generally 5 to 14 inches long, including their tail. They normally weigh around 8 ounces. Their fur color is typically brown in order to blend in with the soil. Gophers have small eyes and ears but have a great sense of touch. They use their tails to navigate underground when they walk backwards. Their diet mainly consists of roots, plants, and vegetables. Gophers are active during both day and night.

Use the image and description above to confirm that you are dealing with a gopher on your property.


Once you've confirmed that your pest animal is a gopher, it is helpful to recognize the areas where it is most active. This is where you will place your live trap.

Where to Inspect

You want to pick areas that have high activity from gophers. These animals are most likely searching your property for food. Search areas with shrubs, plants, and other vegetation, as gophers will be in these areas looking for food. 

What to Look For

Gophers are burrowing creatures. They will dig and create tunnels to travel underground. Check for signs of a disturbed yard, such as fresh piles of dirt. Trees and plants may have exposed roots. Any underground electrical or water piping may be exposed and damaged as well.


Now that you've identified your pest animal as a gopher and taken note of areas where it is most active, you can use your live trap. Be sure to wear gloves when handling the trap to prevent leaving your scent. If a gopher picks up a human scent on the trap, it will avoid the trap, which will make it ineffective.

Step 1 - Remove Food Sources

Pulling Weeds

You want the gopher to enter the live trap with the help of bait. Because of this, competing food sources need to be removed. DIspose of any debris from your lawn, as well as mowing the lawn and removing weeds to cut out additional food sources for these invasive creatures.

Step 2 - Place the Trap

Cage in Woods

By now, you should have taken note of areas with high gopher activity. These areas are where you will put your trap. Be sure to place your trap on an even surface. Since gophers live in packs, consider placing several traps in your desired areas.

Step 3 - Bait and Set the Trap

Trap Trigger

Using the proper bait will increase your chances of catching a gopher. These animals prefer vegetation such as lettuce, but it would be best to use peanut butter so the gopher will not just take the bait and run away. The bait should be placed near the back of the trap. This ensures that the gopher will need to step on the trigger plate in order to reach the food.

You will then set your trap by pushing on the door lock and lifting the door plate. Keep the door plate lifted while pulling the trigger arm forward to set it. You will know it is set when the trigger arm's hook catches the door.

Step 4 - Monitor the Trap


You will need to check the traps twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once in the evening. This is when you will refill bait if needed. Checking the trap frequently may dissuade gophers from approaching the trap. Do not keep an animal trapped in the cage for longer than 24 hours.

Step 5 - Relocate the Gopher

Gopher in Burrow

Any non-target animals should be released immediately. Once you have a captured gopher in your live trap, check your local authorities to make sure you are correctly relocating the animal. Approach the trap slowly and use a gentle voice. Place a towel over the cage to avoid frightening the gopher. Once you have relocated far enough, carefully open the trap and release the animal. You can read more about releasing an animal from a live trap here.


After using your live trap, you want to make sure that wild animals do not invade your property again. You can take some preventative measures to keep your area gopher-free.


An unkempt yard will be sure to attract gophers. Regularly maintain your area by mowing your lawn and removing weeds. Soil can be tilled to destroy established burrows. Sweep up and dispose of debris. This will prevent gophers from returning in search of food.


Because gophers are incredible diggers and spend most of their time underground, consider installing fencing along your property. For best results, you will want the fencing to be at least 18 inches underground.

Key Takeaways

  • Gophers, or pocket gophers, are known for burrowing and storing food in their cheek pockets. They are active during both day and night and mainly feed on roots and vegetation. They can cause extensive damage to shrubs, plants, and other vegetation.
  • Bait the live trap with peanut butter, making sure it is placed behind the trigger plate of the trap.
  • Check the trap once in the morning and once in the evening. Once a gopher is caught, check with your local authorities to make sure you safely and correctly release it.
  • Prevent gophers from entering your property again by removing any potential food sources. You can do this by regularly maintaining your lawn and removing debris, as well as other food sources such as birdseed and tilling the soil.
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