Gophers, voles and ground squirrels: when and how to get rid of burrowing rodents

Wondering what furry little critter has been digging through your garden or fields? To help you bring that damage under control, you need to figure out which burrowing rodent is responsible. Here’s a guide to help you determine which pest you’re dealing with and some effective commercial solutions.


Canada has at least two different species of pocket gophers, and they’re a particular nuisance where grain crops grow. But you’re more likely to see a gopher’s damage before seeing the culprit. They prefer to stay underground, moving about through elaborate systems of burrowed tunnels.

Evidence of their presence is a crescent-shaped mound of dirt with no visible opening. If you have the dubious luck of seeing one, you can distinguish it from ground squirrels by its naked tail.


Voles, sometimes called meadow mice or field mice, are smaller than gophers and ground squirrels. They have short legs, a heavy body, and a short tail. They create shallow tunnels with a visible entrance hole of about three to five centimetres in diameter.

Ground squirrels

You’re sure to see ground squirrels if they’re on your property. They’re typically active during the daytime and above ground in plain sight. Different species vary in height. They leave visible open burrows about 10 centimetres or more in diameter when they dig.

Among the many different types of ground squirrels, Richardson’s ground squirrels, thirteen-lined ground squirrels, and woodchucks are common varieties found in Canada. The chipmunk is also a ground squirrel.

Commercial solutions

You may have heard some DIY solutions for getting rid of these pests from your neighbours or online. These solutions have variable results and may be completely ineffective. Here are some tried and true solutions:

  • Use their sense of smell and taste to repel them using a commercial product like Critter Ridder.
  • Use an ultrasonic pest repellant like Yard Guard or Transonic Pro. These devices emit sounds that humans can’t hear but are unpleasant for pests.
  • Fumigation is an approach that can be effective but should be done with caution and at a safe distance from flammable structures. Giant Destroyer is an effective solution.

Pest control in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba When it comes to clearing burrowing rodents from your gardens and field, it’s best to trust the experts. Poulin’s Pest Control can examine your property, identify the culprits, and help you find a suitable solution. Contact us to talk to a specialist.

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