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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Fumigation of Burrowing Rodents with Carbon Monoxide: A Comparison to Alternative Management Options


Pocket gophers and ground squirrels cause extensive damage to many crops. Pressurized exhaust injection devices are increasingly used for managing these rodents, although no data were available to support their use. Therefore, we established a study to: 1) determine the efficacy of pressurized exhaust machines for pocket gopher and ground squirrel management, 2) compare these results to other burrow fumigant options, and 3) compare their cost effectiveness. Specifically, we tested two different pressurized exhaust machines for both ground squirrels and pocket gophers: Pressurized Exhaust Rodent Controller (PERC), and 2) Cheetah rodent control machine. For California ground squirrels, efficacy for the PERC machine was greater in moist soils (mean = 100%) than in drier soils (mean = 66%). Initial treatments using the PERC machine were more expensive than other burrow fumigation options, given the large cost of the machine. However, costs quickly dropped below that of gas cartridges (~44 days), and eventually dropped below that of aluminum phosphide if used extensively (~830 days). Efficacy for the Cheetah rodent control machine was far less encouraging for California ground squirrels, with results showing increased squirrel numbers at treatment sites (mean = +115%) post-treatment. For pocket gophers, aluminum phosphide (mean = 86%) and trapping (mean = 81%) proved to be more effective than PERC applications (mean = 56%) in heavy organic soils. We observed somewhat greater PERC efficacy in mineral soils (mean = 68%), suggesting potential variability in efficacy across soil types. At this point, the use of the PERC machine appears to be a viable option for inclusion into Integrated Pest Management programs for burrowing rodents where alternative options are limited; the Cheetah rodent control machine showed no utility for ground squirrel management in our study. More extensive testing of pressurized exhaust devices in differing soil types and under variable moisture levels is needed to determine their utility across a broader spectrum of treatment situations.

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