Repellents to reduce cable gnawing by northern pocket gophers

  • Published source details Shumake S.A., Sterner R.T. & Gaddis S.E. (1999) Repellents to reduce cable gnawing by northern pocket gophers. Journal of Wildlife Management, 63, 1344-1349.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use repellents to reduce cable gnawing

Action Link
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
  1. Use repellents to reduce cable gnawing

    A randomized, replicated, controlled study (year not stated) in a captive facility in Colorado, USA (Shumake et al. 1999) found that repellents only deterred cable gnawing by northern pocket gophers Thomomys talpoides when encased in shrink-tubing. When repellents were contained within shrink-tubing, there were reductions in all four damage measures (mass loss, chewing depth, chewing width and volume of chewed area – see paper for details) for capsaicin-treated cables but just for two of the measures (mass loss and chewing depth) for denatonium benzoate-treated cables, when compared to cables treated with a non-deterrent substance. However, when applied to cables without shrink tubing, there was no reduction in the four damage measures for either capsaicin or denatonium benzoate-treated cables, compared to cables treated with a non-deterrent substance. Gophers were live-trapped in the wild and transferred to individual enclosures in captivity. Enclosures each had a 1.2-cm-diameter coaxial cable across an opening. Cables were sponged with capsaicin (six gophers) or denatonium benzoate (six gophers), each in solution with Indopol®, or with Indopol® alone (three gophers). The same treatments were applied to cables then encased in a shrink-tube coating (which adhered to the cable upon exposure to heat) with six gophers each offered cables treated with capsaicin, denatonium benzoate or Indopol® alone. In each case, after seven days, cables were assessed for weight and volume loss and for depth and width of gnawing damage.

    (Summarised by: Nick Littlewood)

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