Gopher Madness

Gopher Madness

Fall in the mountains. It is time to put away the garden art and get ready for the somnolence of the winter landscape. My little deer statues go back into storage until next spring.

Furry friends. Aw, they’re so cute… Well, sometimes, not so much. It all depends on their relationship to your lawn and/or garden.  Look at our sad, patchy brown lawn.  Thanks to an uninvited visitor and its buddies!

Bunny Rabbit

If you have been following my posts, you might have noted that we have a cabin in the mountains. We inherited it from my husband’s grandmother, god bless her soul, when she passed. Over the last few years we have updated the appearance of it inside and out. We fixed the irrigation and I started planting. I wanted to establish curb appeal.

I achieved this desire to a certain degree and then a new, ill-mannered neighbor moved in. One that has been driving me criminally insane. Being a law-abiding citizen with a lot of compassion, murder never crossed my mind (except in my novels) until this happened.

I was reminded of a funny scene in the golfing comedy, Caddy Shack. Bill Murray is given an order by the greens keeper, Sandy, who has a thick Scottish accent, “I want you to kill every gopher (gawpher) on the course!”

Murray’s reply, “Check me if I’m wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they’re gonna lock me up and throw away the key…”

“Gophers, ya great git! The gophers! The little brown furry rodents!”


That’s right. We have a squatter; a pesky, voracious gopher.

Last year, he ate his way through my landscaping. This sent me on an Internet hunt seeking ways to combat our pest. Traps, sonic devices, smoke bombs and inundation with water were not effective. For those of you that saw Caddy Shack, remember Bill Murray with his giant hose?

This year, I developed some new strategies for outwitting the gluttonous little bastard.  When we installed my new plants, including a tree, we put wire cages around their roots.  The smaller annuals (impatiens, coleus) were planted in plastic containers and placed into wire cages.

AND for good measure, I threw in some Mole Max (chemical deterrent) under the pots and on the ground around the plants.

Plus, I chose plants like geraniums, columbines, dianthus, etc that gophers aren’t supposed to eat.

Every time we returned this summer, I would scan my garden. Some plants survived, some were chewed down to the ground and some had completely disappeared.  He didn’t touch the geraniums because there were no roots and they supposedly have an unpleasant taste.  He left the Dianthus stems and leaves but ate all the flowers. One plant that was completely gone was a Lantana which gophers aren’t supposed to like but I guess because of the deterrents around the other plants, he was hungry and decided to eat it anyway.  He left the other Lantana alone- maybe the consumption of the other one gave him a little indigestion and he decided that he would dine elsewhere.

The plants that were almost decimated (nubs left) were the ones that only had wire and Mole Max (no plastic pot).  So much for Mole Max effectiveness.  The lady at the nursery told me that it worked well.  I guess I succumbed to a sales pitch or our rodent buddy is an insatiable, determined beast.

One day, we watched as he popped his head out of his burrow and looked around. Ron started to approach him and the audacious chap let him get within five feet of him before disappearing down his hole.  As the British would say:  Cheeky fellow, he is!

I must say at that moment my love of animals and veterinary oath went out the door. I yearned for a gun! Not that I could hit the side of a barn, that is. I most certainly wanted to scream!

Scary Sreaming Head

After I regained my composure, I even tried Juicy Fruit gum.  I read on a web site that you wear gloves, ball up a stick of JF in its foil covering slightly open to release the aroma and throw it into the gopher’s hole.  Apparently the little critters like the smell and taste of it but it doesn’t like them; supposedly causes their demise. When friends and family of the deceased find him in the tunnel decaying, they hopefully move into different quarters.

I wish it had killed him or at least caused a partial gastrointestinal obstruction but no such luck.  Not this tough guy.   I was still seeing his telltale mounds and my irises were disappearing at an alarming rate.

Lacking other alternatives, I even considered having an owl nesting box installed on one of our trees by the patio but then I thought about our mini pug, Miss Jane. Unfortunately, she is the right size for a hearty owl meal.  If it had babies to feed, Janie just might be considered lunch so I canned that idea. She approved of my decision.

Miss Jane the Pug

I guess the next step is plastic explosives.   Where’s Bill Murray and Wile E. Coyote when ya need them?

Wile E. Coyote








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About J Fremont

Author/veterinarian J. Fremont has created Magician of Light, a novel about famed glassmaker Rene Laliqué. Exercise your imagination. Enjoy!