Do Gophers Eat The Roots Of Plants And Trees? (What To Do?)

Gophers are mostly herbivores and feed on a range of plant materials, and their love for roots can cause damage to garden plants like trees, flowers, vegetables, and shrubs.

Gophers are burrowing rodents that live in tunnels in the ground. They create these tunnels by moving through the soil with their teeth and chiseling it away with their rodent incisors.

Gophers will eat the entire root system of your plants if they are hungry and nearby!

These rodents are considered pests in residential areas because they can cause considerable damage to lawns and vegetation.

Pocket gophers can travel underground as far as 150 feet from their burrow entrance and they constantly need to eat a gopher can eat the roots of small trees and flowers in addition to the plant above in a matter of hours!

For homeowners who want to protect their homes, it is necessary to understand how gophers damage vegetation and the steps that should be taken for control.

Can Gophers Kill Trees?

Yes – by eating their roots!  

When gophers dig their tunnels and encounter the roots of a tree, they may chew through them which can be lethal to especially smaller trees.

If you have a tree that is dying for unknown reasons, check to see if groundhogs or gophers have tunnel openings nearby as they could very well be responsible!

If you want to know more about gophers and how to keep them away, I reveal all my favorite tactics in this comprehensive list article on deterring gophers from your yard!

But first, let’s look into what kind of roots gophers are particularly fond of!

Do Gophers Eat Succulents Roots?

Yes, gophers eat succulent plants. Succulents are plants that have adapted to extreme conditions through the development of water-storing tissue, specialized leaves, or stems.

Gophers love to eat large succulent plants which include agave, aloe vera, and yucca in addition to cacti.

Gophers can eat the fine roots of any type of succulent plant which has close contact with soil. Gophers can easily eat succulent’s root systems in your lawn or garden and may eat the succulent plant as well!

This is not limited to only one type of plant; gophers are known to be able to chomp on many different types of roots both above the ground and under the surface.

Do Gophers Eat Cactus Roots?

Yes, gophers eat the roots of cacti. They can cause considerable damage to a cactus plant by eating the roots and parts of the fleshy stem. However, due to the spikes of cacti, they usually don’t eat the whole plant.

Gopher damage is usually noticed by the appearance of unusually large mounds of loose soil which are pushed up from underground, exposing roots.

Few plants are gopher safe, and even though catcti have defensive spikes, their roots are delicous to a hungry gopher!

If the gopher eats all of a plant’s roots, most plants would die, but cacti have the ability to regrow roots completely from the naked stem, so they may start growing new roots if given enough time.  

Do Gophers Eat Bamboo Roots?

Yes, gophers can eat bamboo plants and their roots. Bamboo is a tall perennial plant that is native to the tropics and subtropics.

This plant has a thick stem that can grow underground, rooting at different points along its length.

Most types of bamboo grow huge over time and get to be several feet wide with roots deep in the soil.

Gophers eat both new and old growth bamboo roots which include any type from clumping bamboos to runners.

Do Gophers Eat Palm Tree Roots?

Yes, gophers eat palm tree roots. Palms are tropical plants with long stems and large fronds which create shade.

Gophers Eating!
Gophers Eating!

When gopher damage is noticed, the plant’s root system will be noticeably smaller than it was before.

The roots of palm trees are an attractive source of food for the gopher.

Do Gophers Eat Queen Palm Roots?

Yes, gophers eat queen palm roots. These are large tropical plants that have a stout trunk with large fronds on top.

Queen’s palms are attractive to gophers because they are big and easy to get down into the ground through their extensive root system. This plant dies when the roots are eaten by gophers.

Do Gophers Eat Avocado Roots?

Yes, gophers will eat avocado tree roots.

The bark and roots of an avocado tree provide a tasty treat for any hungry rodent. This is not limited to only one type of plant, gophers are known to be able to chomp on many different types of roots both above the ground and under the surface.

Do Gophers Eat Citrus Roots?

Yes, gophers eat the roots of citrus plants. Citrus trees are attractive to many types of rodents when grown in your yard because they produce a fruit that is full of juice which can be much easier for them to chew through than other types of vegetation.

Gopher damage to citrus plants is usually noticed when the tree begins dying mysteriously after producing a healthy crop of fruit.

Do Gophers Eat Orange Tree Roots?

Yes, gophers eat orange tree roots. Homeowners who have orange trees in their yard are at risk of having this plant eaten by gophers due to its proximity to the surface.

These types of trees are popular with rodents because they can easily chomp through the bark and reach the sweet tasty roots.

Do Gophers Eat Hops?

Whereas gophers do not like the bitter taste of the hops flowers, they will be able to eat the roots of the hops plant!

Hops are an essential ingredient in beer brewing, and growing your own can add another dimension to your brew. However, having gophers in the area may make it more difficult.

Gophers will eat the roots of hops plants, but not the bitter hops themselves.

One thing you can do is to plant your hops in large pots, through which the gopher cannot dig or chew. In this way, you can also move the plant around to find the least gopher-critical area of your yard.

For other tips and tricks to keep gophers away, check my suggestion list here.

Do Gophers Eat Blueberry Roots?

Yes, gophers eat blueberry plants. Blueberries are attractive to rodents when they grow in your yard because their roots are accessible in the soil by penetrating just a few inches down.

Gophers will also eat the ripe fruit, stems, and leaves of blueberry plants.

Once this plant dies, it can be easily noticed when there is no more fruit on the branches.

Do Gophers Eat Fern Roots?

No, gophers do not normally eat ferns. The roots of these plants are not appealing to gophers since they aren’t that tasty.

So ferns may be considered one of the few gopher-resistant garden plants, that also include flowers. If you are curious about what flowers are resistant to gophers, I have made a list here.

However, if there is an abundance of other types of vegetation in the area, the gopher may still attempt to chew through it in search of food.

Do Gophers Eat Fig Tree Roots?

Yes, gophers eat fig tree roots. Ficus trees are a popular plant for being grown in yards because they can withstand heat and drought conditions commonly found in the area.

Unfortunately, this tree is attractive to rodents when grown outside because it produces many types of fruit which can be easily chewed through to reach the roots.

Once eaten, this plant will eventually die because the root system is destroyed by gophers digging underground.

How to Prevent Gophers from Eating your Trees and Plants

There are several methods for keeping gophers away from your rooted plants and vegetables. Here is a shortlist of ideas. For the full list see my 10-item post here.

1. Ultrasonic Sound Emitters

My absolute favorite invention to keep pests away from my backyard are these cool solar-powered ultrasonic sound emitters that you can buy right off Amazon!

In my experience, they really work, and the solar panels on top save you the time and money of changing batteries all the time.  

Groundhogs and gophers, as well as other animals that may invade your garden, tend to have very good hearing.

This means that loud or consistent noises will scare them away or at least shorten their visits significantly!

My favorite ultrasonic emitters. Click to read more at Amazon.

2. Fencing

Fencing is the best way to keep gophers away from vegetables. Gopher-proof fencing is typically made out of poly wire, plastic mesh, or heavy-gauge wire netting.

A gopher fence to protect your plants!

You can build a simple fence to surround an entire garden or yard, or you can create individual small enclosures for each vegetable plant in the garden.

3. Gopher Traps

Use gopher traps to catch and kill gophers on the ground before they can eat your vegetables. There are several types of simple traps that you can use, but most work best if you set them after the gophers have already started chewing on your plants. I prefer those that catch them alive, so you can drive them far away and set them free.

4. Water and Fertilizer System

If you have a drip irrigation or a sprinkler system in your yard, then you can trick gophers into thinking that heavy rain is coming and that the entire area is flooded because of all the moisture.

This will discourage gophers from digging up your veggies because they prefer to stay dry when possible and because they cannot breathe in flooded tunnels!

If you don’t have a drip irrigation system then you can water your vegetable garden a bit more than usual when gophers are around. This will keep the gophers away, just like flooding the entire yard would.

5. Motion-activated sprinklers

Like most animals, gophers hate surprises, and they will run away if suddenly sprayed with water. I like this solution because it is humane, simple, effective, and does not require much time to set up and there are many models to choose from.

My favorite sprinkler option here is the Havahart 5277.

For more inspiration on how to keep gophers out of your yard, see my latest post for a full and updated list of the most effective means of keeping gophers and groundhogs out of your yard.

Conclusion

Gophers are able to eat a variety of different types of roots, both above and below ground. While they typically do not eat ferns, they will consume the roots of other plants such as blueberry, fig, citrus, and orange trees.

If you notice that your tree or plant is dying for no apparent reason, it is likely because the gopher has been feeding on its roots.

You can protect your vegetation by using physical barriers or repellents to keep these rodents away from your property. See my best tactics to keep gophers out!