Are Gophers Dangerous?
If you witness small mounds of dirt popping up in your yard and your curious pets are digging and pacing around these mounds, chances are you have gophers in your yard. Gophers are rodents with a round body, soft fur, short neck, flat head, thick whiskers, and a short tail with pockets on either side of their mouth.
Gophers thrive in a variety of environments and a range of altitudes. Because they live underground, they prefer moist, porous soils with good drainage. The majority of their species is in America with the most common species, called pocket gophers commonly found in North America. Gophers are strict herbivores so plenty of vegetation is favorable to them as they use plants for protection and feed on them.
Within their home ranges, gophers dig extensive burrow systems equipped with travel runs, drainage tunnels and chambers for living, eating and excreting waste- more like a matrix.
Gophers are destructive diggers and can be a nightmare to homeowners; if your yard is vegetative with soft soil and moisture then you’ll most likely have them around. They have sharp claws and teeth that they use for digging but do they also pose a threat? Are they dangerous?
Gophers keep to themselves and will not attack unless threatened. If they feel threatened, they will usually try to flee rather than attack. They have long nails and sharp teeth that can cause any animal puncture wounds. In a true sense, gophers are not dangerous except when directly attacked, but they pose a threat to mammals indirectly in some other ways. Let’s examine some of the hazards of having gophers on your property.
Dirt mounds become a walking hazard
Because they live underground, gophers use their sharp claws and teeth to dig tunnels and furrows creating dirt mounds in the process which is a walking hazard. Because the ground under the mounds is hollow, you or a family member could step into the hole if you are not careful. The sudden, unexpected drop could jar your foot, ankle, or leg and if a gopher is underneath, it could bite you as a form of self-defense which could pose another hazard.
They cause extensive damage to your lawn
The tunnels and multiple dirt mounds dug by gophers cause damage to your lawn; they weaken the integrity of your yard. Also because gophers are herbivores, they feed on your flowers and plants causing serious damage to your lawn.
Gophers carry disease
As mammals, they have the ability to carry disease which can be a serious threat to health when contracted. The infected urine, saliva, and droppings of gophers are harmful. Gophers carry rabies which could be transmitted through a bite and can be fatal. If you have a child, they may try to pet or grab a gopher out of its hole, increasing the risk of a bite.
Gophers themselves are not dangerous because they do not attack until they feel threatened, but they can be indirectly hazardous in ways we have just highlighted. If you suspect you have gophers on your property, the best practice is to get in touch with pest control experts before you end up with a large colony of gophers.