our area is full of gophers and over the last five (5) years, no amount of trapping, hose water, poisons, and smoke bombs have worked to rid us of them. I want to put snakes down into their tunnel systems and use them to rid us of gophers. is this even viable? or am I nuts? not sure where the snakes would go after they finish their buffet of gophers, but i'm sure they won't be creating mounds of dirt in our yards and making more tunnels. What do u think.
Thank you for your question. At first glance, it seems logical that snakes could be a viable solution to a rodent problem. However, snakes are probably not going to be an effective solution for a couple of reasons. First, you'll have to catch the snakes. The Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer) would be a good choice, but they can be difficult to locate. Second, assuming you can catch some, you have to convince them to stay around the burrows. Once you release them, you don't have any control over where they go. They may stay in the area or move to another location. In addition, over time, pocket gophers have evolved to develop techniques for keeping snakes out of their burrows. They plug the entrances with soil, and actually pack soil into their burrow some distance from the entrance to discourage unwanted visitors. The most successful gopher predators, reportedly, are raptors (hawks and owls) and coyotes.
A good reference for pocket gophers, including their distribution, ecology and management is a chapter on pocket gophers, written by Robert J. Baker, Robert D. Bradley and Lee R. McAliley Jr., in the book Wild Mammals of North America - Biology, Management and Conservation.
Feldhamer, George A., Thompson, Bruce C. and Chapman, Joseph A. (2003). Wild Mammals of North America - Biology, Management and Conservation. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
You may want to consider hiring professional trappers to assist with your gopher problem. Here's a link to an L.A. County government publication on trapping of nuisance wildlife:
Hope this information helps, and thank you for contacting Ask an Expert.