Do You Have A Gopher Or A Groundhog In Your Yard?

Discovering uninvited guests in your yard can be daunting, especially if you don't know what they are and how to redirect them elsewhere. Gophers and groundhogs are two of the most common backyard rodents, and, if you're reading this, you're probably suspicious that one of the two species has taken over your own lawn. Fortunately, the physical differences between gophers and groundhogs are pretty distinct and clear-cut. And, once you've figured out exactly who you're dealing with, the critters will be a lot easier to get rid of.

Pocket gophers (more commonly referred to as gophers) of the Thomomys species have pink feet and thinner, rat-like tails. Meanwhile, groundhogs, or Marmota monax, have dark feet and bushy, flat tails. Gophers are also much smaller than groundhogs in both length and bulk. Despite having mostly small features, gophers have much more rounded faces, and more prominent teeth than their groundhog counterparts.

Recognizing the signs

Besides seeing the animals themselves, the most obvious signs of gophers or groundhogs are signs of freshly dug-up soil. Both animals burrow and create systems beneath the surface as a place to eat, sleep, and nest. The unique ways that each species burrows through dirt can also help you realize which one you're dealing with.

Gopher burrowing systems are roughly 2.5 to 3.5 inches in diameter and can cover between 200 to 2,000 square feet. However, these giant underground cities are typically 6 to 12 inches below the surface, making them impossible to see. Instead, people often notice mounds of dirt that are crescent-shaped and plugged that lead to these tunnels.

On the other hand, groundhog burrowing systems are easily noticed because of the large holes they create. Unlike gophers, groundhogs leave the entrances and exits of their tunnels open, which are roughly 10 to 12 inches in diameter.

Reclaiming your yard

Now that you've identified the type of rodent that has been building an underground metropolis in your yard, you have a couple of options. You can surrender your yard to its new residents or reclaim it.

Many choose the latter for multiple reasons. Not only are these rodents common garden mooches, but their underground tunnel systems can disrupt the integrity of building foundations. Fortunately, there are many rodent removal tactics that are both efficient and harmless.

There are multiple common household items that you can utilize to drive groundhogs away from your yard. For instance, groundhogs are deterred by the scent of Epsom salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Simply sprinkle any of these items around the opening of a groundhog tunneling system and let the deterrents do the heavy lifting.

Gophers are also easily deterred by the smell of common pantry items. Coffee grounds, fish oil, peppermint oil, and Tabasco sauce are suitable alternatives to harmful traps and chemicals, and they're safe for your yard.