The Differences Between Gophers and Voles on Your Property

Managing your property in Colorado can sometimes feel like a battle against nature, especially when it comes to pests like gophers and voles. These small but destructive rodents can wreak havoc on your lawn and garden if left unchecked. Gophers are known for their extensive tunnel systems, which can damage plant roots and create unsightly mounds on the surface. Voles, on the other hand, are notorious for their voracious appetite for plant stems and roots, often leaving trails of destruction in their wake.

Knowing the differences between these two common rodents and how to control them effectively is crucial for maintaining a healthy landscape. Gophers tend to be larger and more solitary, while voles are smaller and often live in colonies. Effective control methods vary between these pests; for gophers, trapping or using bait are common strategies, while for voles, habitat modification and repellents can be more effective. Let’s explore the key differences and recommended pest control methods for both, ensuring your property remains lush and beautiful.

adult gopher walking in yard

Key Differences Between Gophers and Voles

vole on the ground

Size and Appearance

Gophers: Typically measure 6 to 10 inches in length and can weigh between 200 to 500 grams. They are larger than voles and have noticeable cheek pouches, which they use to carry food back to their burrows. Their fur is often a brownish color, blending well with the soil.

Voles: Smaller in size, measuring around 3 to 5 inches and weighing about 20 to 50 grams. They have a more compact body with a shorter tail, and their eyes and ears are less prominent compared to gophers. Their fur can range from gray to brown and is generally dense and soft, providing good insulation.

Diet

Gophers: Herbivores that primarily feed on roots, plants, and shrubs. They are known to cause significant underground damage by eating plant roots, which can kill the plants. Their diet also includes tubers and bulbs, making them a common nuisance in gardens and agricultural fields.

Voles: Omnivores that consume a wider variety of foods, including plants, insects, and seeds. Their damage is usually more visible above ground, such as gnawing on plants and tree bark. Voles are particularly fond of grains and can be a problem in crop fields. They also have a tendency to girdle young trees in orchards, which can be quite destructive.

Behavior and Burrowing

Gophers: Solitary animals that create extensive burrow systems, which can cover a large area and cause significant disruption to the soil and plants. Their burrows typically consist of a main tunnel with multiple branches, often leading to food storage and nesting chambers. Gopher mounds are usually fan-shaped, with a plugged hole on one side.

Voles: Social creatures that live in colonies, creating shallow tunnels just under the surface of the ground. While their burrowing is less extensive than that of gophers, it can still cause significant damage to lawns and gardens. Vole runways, or surface tunnels, are usually visible in the grass and are often about two inches wide. Their burrows often have multiple entrances and are interconnected with their surface runways.

Gopher Control

Trapping

Using box or tunnel traps is highly effective for gopher control. Place traps in the main runways of their burrow systems, ensuring they are well-secured to prevent escape. This method is targeted and reduces the gopher population without widespread environmental impact. Regular checking and resetting of traps increase success rates.

Flooding

Flooding burrows with water can drive gophers out, but it’s less targeted and can potentially harm your plants and soil structure. This method may be more effective when combined with trapping, as gophers forced to the surface can be more easily captured.

Predators

Encouraging natural predators like birds of prey, such as owls and hawks, can help control gopher populations. Installing raptor perches or owl boxes in your area can attract these predators. Additionally, domestic pets like dogs can deter gophers from settling in your yard.

gopher hole

Vole Control 

Exclusion Methods

Installing fine mesh wire barriers around gardens or trees can effectively prevent voles from accessing and damaging plants. The mesh should be buried at least 6 inches deep and extend about 12 inches above the ground to deter voles from burrowing underneath or climbing over.

Trapping

Mouse traps baited with peanut butter or apple slices can effectively control vole populations. Place traps along their runways or near burrow entrances for the best results. Checking traps daily ensures efficient population control and prevents the attraction of other pests.
Predators

Predators

Natural predators such as birds of prey, snakes, and domestic cats can help keep vole populations in check. Providing habitat for these predators, such as raptor perches and brush piles, can encourage their presence in your area.

vole holes

Chemical Repellents and Baits

Available for both gophers and voles, these should be used cautiously, following label instructions, and considering the potential impact on the environment.

Chemical repellents can deter pests from specific areas, while baits can reduce population numbers. Always ensure that pets and non-target wildlife are not exposed to these chemicals.

Leave the task to OMNIS Pest Control for optimal results.

Contact OMNIS Pest Control for Gopher and Vole Control

We understand the importance of managing pests humanely and sustainably. By using targeted, non-toxic methods and encouraging natural predators, we can help you control gopher and vole populations on your Colorado property without harming the environment.

Need help with gopher or vole control? Contact us today to learn more about our humane pest control solutions tailored to your specific needs.

By understanding the differences between gophers and voles and employing effective, humane control methods, you can protect your property and maintain a healthy, thriving landscape.