Do Gophers Eat Wood / Chew Through Wood

Do Gophers Eat Wood

Gophers are a scourge of gardeners the world over. They can damage backyards, and even your home in some cases. Whilst I’ve talked extensively elsewhere on the blog about what they are capable of, this guide is purely focussed on gophers eating or chewing wood.

There are two types of wood that gophers can chew through. 

Firstly, gophers will eat wood from trees. This involves them chewing roots and stripping bark all the way around a tree as far as they can reach up. You can read more about that lower down the page. 

Gophers will also chew wood in your backyard in some circumstances.

Scenarios in which this can happen are as follows:

  • When food sources are exhausted, a gopher might attempt to chew through weakened wood spots to gain access to a shed where it knows food is. 
  • Gophers will chew through rotten wood when they happen upon it underground if it is impeding their tunnel system.

However, Gophers are unlikely to eat through wood to get into a house or shed unless there was a food source there are they are desperate. They will find wood very tough to eat through so it’s rare. 

How gophers chew bark and roots

Gophers also chew growing wood in trees. They can strip bark and chew roots. When they do this, gophers chew all bark off the tree trunk, usually to a height of no more than 3 inches. 

If you see damage to your trees and those tell-tale mounds, you most likely have a gopher problem. 

Gophers are active all year. You can remove their food sources such as weeds and growing vegetation, but if you do, they are more likely to resort to eating trees and chewing wood. They’d much rather be eating moist greens. 

The trees most at risk from gophers are first through fourth leaf trees. But that doesn’t mean old trees are safe, gophers will chew any tree if they have nothing else. 

As the gopher (or gophers) chew tree bark and roots, the tree gets weaker. Sadly, you might not notice the damage until it’s too late and the tree has died. This is particularly true if they are chewing roots from below ground. 

Even the tree doesn’t die, wood rot can get into it once the gopher has chewed. This can lead to trees then falling over in high winds. 

More backyard guides…

Image in header is public domain from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gopher#/media/File:Pocket_gopher.jpg