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Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Pocket Gopher Inside the Chicken Run

23 July 2011

A pocket gopher hole in the coop.

Our chicken run has been invaded by a gopher! It has somehow found its way under 12 inches of hardware wire that we buried under the soil to keep out digging predators. Well, it worked for the predators but not for the crafty gophers. We’ve had a lot of gophers this year in the garden. They can easily dig in the moist soil, and after an unusual amount of rain last winter, it’s to be expected. It’s turned out to be gopher heaven here.

Pocket gophers tunnel deep in the earth, leaving mounds (usually “U” shaped) of fine, powdery soil at the surface. The pocket gopher is named for the pockets inside the cheeks used for gathering food. You can see a pocket gopher gather food on this video. Their nests and food chamber can be 6 feet deep. Gophers are herbivores, preferring herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees. If a shrub dies overnight, it is usually a sign that a gopher has eaten the roots. Trapping and applying poison deep in the tunnel are the common methods of ridding your garden of gophers. A wire basket surrounding a newly planted tree or shrub will protect the roots from these pests until the plant can survive a bit of nibbling.

A pocket gopher with pouches filled.

I’ve left the hole where the gopher came up in the run. I don’t know what the hens would do if he comes out in the daytime. They’d probably squawk and run screaming to the far corner. The hens are not very brave. They squawk and run when I throw in a big snail into the run! Now I’ve heard that chickens, especially those big burly he-man roosters, will make dinner our of gophers and rats. But my sweet hens…….I doubt it.

I wonder what the gopher is looking for. There’s not a living blade of grass in the run since hens are attracted to anything green. Perhaps he is eating the chicken feed that gets spilled on the ground. Anyway, I’ll keep you posted. He’s got to go because when he finds out he came up in barren territory, he’ll soon wander and be eating the roots of my beloved garden plants!

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