The Border Collie Chronicles

Observations from (arguably) the World's Smartest Dogs;
(but, without question, the bestest friends!)
or, Life As We Understand It, as told from dad's shop.

Posted February 23, 2017



It’s a WAR out there folks!

By Taffy


This is my first “solo” article – I have just been so danged busy figuring out all the rules, smells, and things to do at my new Forever Home that I just haven’t had the time necessary to compose the sort of thoughtful, insightful article that the readers of this fine site have become accustomed to. 


Editor’s Note:  Ms. Taff is actually much too scattered to focus on an article … she is ALL over and into EVERYTHING!  But we love her and are so proud that she is a member of the troupe!


So … as I was trying to come up with an article (and was kind of stumped for a starting idea), my freakishly huge big brother Bubba suggested that I write about something that I love … well, that got me to thinking even harder since I am soooo appreciative of the vet that suggested to my first person that I was worth saving even though I would be crippled – and the wonderful folks at ABCR that took me in (by the way, they still have calendars available to purchase and the Amazon Smile deal is ALWAYS available) – and Shirley for being my foster mom and providing an excellent place for me to heal up! – then there’s my new dad, mom-D, Gall, Annie, Bubba, and my “bestie” Merritt for letting me come to my Forever Home.  I was really stumped now with all of these thoughts running through my head, while I was also calculating Fermat’s Last Theorem[i], and doing jumping jacks while dancing with dad.  That’s when my most wise and wonderful big sister Gall eased past me and whispered … write about work, dummy!  That’s when the topic for the article hit me … I’ll write about what I am helping dad on around the place!


Yeah – you know that I am talking about ol’ Geomys personatus, they’ve bothered me ever since I got here, and dad has (oh … I’m sorry … Geomys personatus is also known as the Texas Pocket Gopher[ii]) finally decided that he had had enough as well!!!


They are trying to take over this place and we just will not stand for that (plus, dad is afraid that when the snakes start moving, they’ll take over the burrows for dens)!  In December, Gall got one – they are terribly hard to lay in wait for.  Annie tells me that her mom (the late, great Rooney) would lay beside a mound for hours and hours waiting for one of those little buggers to stick his head out – and she only recorded a handful of kills.  She also said that dad had gotten some good poison pills that killed them with a gas – that way, if the dogs found them later and chewed on them, it wouldn’t hurt us – but, because some idiot in Amarillo put them under his mobile home and killed his family – those pills are almost impossible to get any more.


As we do around here, we turned to the good ol’ www for advice and guidance to get ol’ Geomys personatus, and here’s some of the ideas that we found:




First … You have to know your enemy!

  • The pocket gopher is a burrowing rodent found here, there, and everywhere.  Their purpose in life seems to be the destruction of plants and land.

  • They can get up to a foot in length, depending on the species.  They have sharp teeth and claws.  Gophers, moles, and ground squirrels are often mistaken for each other.  Some extermination techniques are different for each.

  • Gophers often plug their gopher holes, while the others do not.

  • Their homes are a complex system of tunnels running up to several hundred feet.  The main tunnels run about half a foot below the surface and are three inches or more in diameter.  Chambers are created off the main tunnels for food storage and breeding nests.  Excess soil is piled on the surface.  Though most of the burrow system is relatively close to the surface, many parts of the complex can penetrate to as much as six feet deep.

  • Pocket gopher families are loners and territorial.  Their average territory is approximately 40x40 to 50x50 square feet, i.e., a 20 to 25 foot radius.

  • Pocket gophers are active 365 days a year.  Surface foraging is not their main forte and is only done very near the gopher hole entrances.  Most of their feeding consists of the plant parts below ground.

  • The breeding season for these vociferous and destructive critters is spring.  The gestation period is estimated at three weeks.  Litters average around five.  Sometimes there are two litters per season.  In late summer of the same year, the young disperse to create their own homes.

Legal Note and Disclaimer:  You are on your own as to the legal ramifications, local government bureaucracy, animal-rights groups, and whatever else may obstruct or sabotage your efforts.  Also, be advised this is a compilation list, not a recommendation list.  Many of the items listed here might actually work ... some, not so much!  It shouldn’t be too difficult to ascertain the difference.  Your results may vary.


After you get to know them … you then EXTERMINATE them!  Here are some of the ideas that we found (read disclaimer above):

  • Run a hose from your vehicle’s exhaust pipe (Merritt thinks we ought to do this with the gator!) to the nearest gopher hole.  With engine running, start covering up any other open holes.  Dad thinks that you ought to have your shotgun handy (or at least a shovel and play real life “Whack-A-Mole”! … or, if you’re a golfer, have a three wood handy and be ready to tee up! - Hey, I'm sorry you animal lovers ... but war is HELL!)!

  • Running a garden hose to the complex seldom works, but it is worth a try, especially with the shotgun option (Dad did this once without a shotgun and says that the little sucker ran right up the hose, causing him to scream like a little girl and almost trip while backing up!  He actually screamed so high that it scared of Rooney and Hardway!)

  • Drop bubble gum in their holes.  It is rumored it will mess up their internal organs.  (Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for dad!)

  • Show them gay-themed gopher movies (this was Bubba’s contribution/suggestion).

  • Mechanical traps (more to come).

  • Annie suggested “Gopher Bombs”.  She researched it and thinks that you can take saltpeter, sugar, and sulfur and an excellent gopher bomb.  Mix the saltpeter and sugar at 2:1, then add as much sulfur as you can stand.  Wrap it all tightly in newspaper, shove down in a gopher hole, light it and run quick.  I should mention that saltpeter is the primary ingredient used in gunpowder, so be sure your health and life insurance policies are up to date and the premiums are paid in full. (Google it!)

  • Moth balls.  Apparently they don't like them.

  • Catch-them-alive traps.  Then take them far, far away.  (NOTE:  We are NOT a fan of this method … eliminate the problem, don’t transfer it!  Dad’s pretty upset … if they get into the St. Augustine under the lean to … the last option in this list will likely be used!)

  • Use car flares in their holes.  Dig out the gopher hole, light the flare and throw it in, cover it up.  Go to the next tunnel system and do the same.  They supposedly hate the smell of sulfur … or maybe you can get them through asphyxiation (see my comment on "catch 'em alive")?

  • To encourage them to move - put dog poop (or your kitty litter poop and pee) into the gopher hole.  Or you can pee into hole yourself.  This might move them on.

  • Scorched Earth Premise:  Go in after them!  Start digging until you reach either the property line or the gopher ... this may sound destructive, but eventually the tunnel will either collapse, leaving a rut in the yard, or another gopher (or snake) will move in after the first is gone.  So by digging up the tunnel and refilling after your Gopher is gone, the possibility for another to move into the tunnel is eliminated.  It’s important to get right after them as soon as you see a mound, and before they dig for miles.

  • Castor oil.  

  • They seem to hate bottle rockets, especially the ones that whistle then blow up.  You can try roman candles, the blow up report ones are the best. 

  • Of course, if you can lay your hand on some dynamite – that would probably be effective as well (and dad just MIGHT try this if the above fail!!)!

Once you kill them … what do you do with them?

  • Place on top of fence posts.  (Dad puts the dead snakes on top of the 4' well house.)

  • Sell them on eBay.  Important note:  I think that health laws may require you take them to a taxidermist first.

  • Give to your cat (BC’s like to chew on them as well!).

  • Bury them next to your plant most in need of fertilizer, talk about sweet revenge.

  • You can hang them on your fence/gate to show your neighbors that you are doing your part!

You’re now clean of them … how do you stay clean?

  • Sprinkle hot spices where you don’t want the gophers to be.

  • Bury chicken-wire beneath where you don’t want the gophers to be.

  • Mix broken glass where you don’t want the gophers to be.

  • Ultrasonic, electronic, vibration, and magnetic-field devices have not worked for dad - so we'd suggest saving your money on those.

  • We're thinking just continued control methods - a combination of scorched earth and dynamite should do the trick!

Well, we have officially declared war around here, and, I pledged to dad and the other BC’s that I would do my part – I have been “blessed” with a rather long and sensitive snout and not only can I smell out those tunnels, but my appendage also acts as a pretty good spoon for uncovering the little sucker’s burrows!  Since dad believes that the likelihood of getting those pills is pretty slim, he ordered some traps off Amazon (he used Amazon Smiles like he always does so the ABCR would get a little kick back!) and we are off to trap those jokers!  We already have some results … but since I am already at three pages – I will save that for my next article …












Dad says that this is the second cousin of the one that came up the hose at him!








[i] You can brush up on this at's_Last_Theorem if you need to.


[ii] Ugly little fellas aren’t they?









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