Mole Gopher Trapping & Removal
Although there is currently no truly humane way to trap or remove gophers and moles, there are some steps you can take to help prevent them, including utilizing mole exclusion methods around your property.
To help you determine how you would like to treat your mole or gopher problems, we'll also take a look at commonly used trap and kill options.
Trapping & Killing Moles & Gophers
There are a few live trap methods for catching moles, which we have described below, however, there can be potential problems with these techniques that should be considered first, including suffering or death for the mole. If you are looking for a truly humane technique for trapping moles, it does not exist at this time.
Mole activity slows down during drought and extreme hot or cold weather, but they are active 12 months a year. So, if you think they are done eating your lawn this year, don't worry - they will be back next year.
Coffee Can Traps
Moles can sometimes be trapped in a coffee can. A hole is dug in the path of their tunnel and a coffee can is inserted in hopes that the mole can be made to fall inside the coffee can. Cardboard and dirt are placed over the coffee can without crushing the tunnels to help exclude light. The can must be checked every other hour. One problem with this method, is that by the time you check the can every other hour you have added a lot of human scent to the area, which can deter the mole away from the trap. But if you do not check it enough, the mole will die of exposure to the elements.
Body Crushing Traps
Some traps have sharp points that fully close on the mole and kill it. These points are sometimes altered with rubber pads or special coatings in an attempt to make the trap non-lethal. The concept is that the live mole will be trapped in place because of tension on their body from the trap, therefore allowing for live removal and relocation. However, this method has the same problem the coffee can one does - the trap has to be checked every few hours to avoid suffering and death for the mole. But, a frequently handled trap will begin to have a strong human scent which will deter the mole away and even educate the mole to avoid such traps in the future. If the traps are not checked frequently, the trapped animal will suffer or die and defeating efforts to be humane.
Kill Traps & Poisons
Unfortunately, the bottom line is that the most effective way to get rid of moles and gophers is via trapping. Humane removal methods are simply not cost effective or feasible when it comes to gophers and moles. Mole traps can be rather expensive and a few styles can inadvertently hurt pets. If incorrectly set, moles can be caught by one or more toes and actually drag your trap deep into their tunnel system where you will never find it, only frustrating you that much more. Mole traps and gopher traps are very different for many reasons. Do not attempt to use a gopher trap to catch a mole, without consulting your physician first.
Talpirid is a popular poison used by mole control services to kill moles. But, poisoning moles with Talpirid can typically only be done effectively by an experienced mole trapper with a pest control license. And it is important to remember that any time you use poisons you run the risk of accidentally poisoning your pets.
Exclusion & Prevention
There are three humane mole control methods that we have found to be helpful, one is prevention through proper landscape planning and maintenance, the second is installing underground barriers and the third is the application of castor oil, scoot mole or other non-toxic repellents.
The barrier method is the best way to exclude moles and gophers from your flower beds and yards. The barrier method is very labor intensive and it can be quite costly. Dig a narrow 12" vertical trench around the entire area you want to protect from moles and gophers. Insert 16" of steel as lawn edging. Push the soil back to leave a 6" wall above ground and a 12" below ground barrier all around the area. This will deter moles and gophers from entering the area below ground in the first place. The 6" on top is to deter them from trying to access the area above ground. Of course, steel is not inexpensive, so you can also opt to insert ¼" or ½" galvanized woven wire hardware cloth 12" below the ground. The combined overall effort of making your property unappealing to lawn wrecking critters is what will help you with long term results. The ½" hardware cloth should last approximately 15 years.
Landscaping can have a big impact on how attractive your property is to moles. For instance, moles have eyesight worse than your grandfather without his glasses on, consequently, they find their way around by touching and smelling. Since moles like to eat worms, they will go where the worms are found. If you water your lawn too much or if drainage is an issue, worms will move closer to the surface where they will serve as an attractant to moles. When moles eat, they leave ridges all over your lawn that appear to be erratic. These are caused by moles' bad sight combined with their good sense of touch and smell. They are changing directions erratically because their senses have told them that they should go the other direction for that tasty worm, invertebrate, cricket, beetle larvae (wireworms, and so on), ants, brood, moth pupae and larvae (the army worms and cut worms), and those nasty slugs. When landscaping your property you might consider choosing a native grass that is heat and drought tolerant, a grass that will not require so much moisture near the surface. The same principle applies to which plants and flowers you choose for your property. Landscaping that moves moisture deeper into the soil will not prevent moles but the damage done by the moles will be deeper down thus helping preserve the beauty of your lawn and flower beds.
Castor Oil And Other Repellents
Castor oil in a liquid form can sometimes be helpful as a repellent and can be bought online or at your local hardware store. The castor oil bottle attaches to your garden hose and is sprayed onto your lawn at least every two weeks. Clients report oily sidewalks with varied success but have still described the results as "worth the money and effort because we had fewer moles". Scoot Mole is another spray repellent that can be used.
1242 SW Pine Island Rd., Suite 310
Cape Coral, Florida 33991-2126
Coral Gables and Southeast Florida