The gopher is a rodent that can cause serious property damage. This is not limited to the effects of their feeding on your garden or other plant life. They can damage underground water delivery systems as well as the turf and overall landscaping of your yard. If you have decided upon being pro-active and intend to use a mechanical trap as opposed to a poison-based one, a bait food may enhance the trap's effectiveness.
Gophers tend to eat a number of different forms of grass and vegetation. In a natural state, you will see that gophers feed off anything from normal grass to shrubs to smaller varieties of trees that are found in your yard. For bait, consider providing what is known as a forb. Some species include dandelion, prickly pear cactus and alfalfa. The trick is that these plant materials not be present all over your property so the bait will be the only food source the gophers will be attracted to.
According to the University of California, there are a number of different household food items that can also be used in gopher traps. The source specifically mentions "lettuce, apples and carrots" as potentially viable bait foods. As noted above, ensure that your property does not afford other areas where these food sources—as in gardens or the like—are readily available to the gopher so that they may remain alluring. The University of California also suggests peanut butter as bait food—this will certainly not be found elsewhere on the property.
You can use food in either a box style trap or a pincer trap. For the box trap, locate the wire trigger and put the food to the rear of it. The pincer trap will usually possess a flat pan component. The bait should be placed behind this as well. Put the trap into the burrow you have located. If you've dug down into the burrow, you'll want to cover up the hole. You can use anything from sod to cardboard for this step.
Whenever you are choosing a bait, consider durability. With some commercial baits, the morsels are designed to withstand bad weather and will not disintegrate if it rains before the product has been ingested. However, items like carrots and peanut butter can also withstand a little bit of rain. When laying the bait, focus on those areas or mounds that seem to have the freshest dirt around them. Be prepared to perform several applications. Gophers tend not to be attracted to bait during periods of extreme weather (either hot or cold) so plan on laying the bait during moderate temperatures.