Muskrats

Scientific Name: Ondatra zibethicus

muskrats

Description

Muskrats, as adults, are approximately, 18-24 inches long. They have large webbed rear feet and small front feet used for grasping and digging. Muskrats weigh around 1-2 pounds. They have a long rudder like tail which helps them steer as they swim. Fur coloration ranges from light brown to dark/almost black.Muskrats are typically nocturnal creatures (come out at night) but can be seen during daylight hours.

Breeding Habits

Muskrats are extremely prolific. Mating occurs up to 6 times in the South and 1-2 times farther north. Gestation period is only 25-30 days. Litter sizes are typical 4-7 in number.

Habitat

Streams, Ponds, Marshes. Anywhere where there is slow moving water and muddy stream beds.

Damage

Muskrats cause a great deal of economic loss to cranberry growers and other farmers through their burrowing activities in pond and dike banks. By digging for roots and in constructing dens, muskrats weaken and undermine the integrity of banks and dikes.

Home Damage- To be Added Soon

Landscape Damage-

Muskrats can be devastating to the banks of lakes and dikes due to their burrowing. The burrows eventually collapse and further erode the banks. These tunnels can also be dangerous to people walking the banks if they happen to break through the surface and fall into one endangering ankles and legs.

Muskrat Damage Control Methods

Non-lethal Muskrat Control

1. Rip Rapping

Rip rapping is a technique of adding stone to embankments to prevent muskrats from being able to burrow into the banks. Stone should be added to an embankment at least three feet below the level of the water. Fencing can also be used instead of rock.

2. Plants not attractive to Muskrats.

Wayne Langman recommends "Crown Vetch. It covers well flowers all summer and doesn't offer food to the (musk)rats."

Lethal Muskrat Control

1. Footholds and Conibears

Typically the best way to control muskrats is through trapping. Trapping is highly effective and efficient. Unfortunately, some citizens like those in Massachusetts have listened to the animal rights protest industry instead of scientific management and have banned these traps and/or severly restricted their use.

To learn how to properly use these effective tools, drop us an e-mail or check out our store.

2. Muskrats and Colony Traps

Colony traps, as the term suggest, allow the capture of multiple muskrats in one day. Whereas the foothold and conibear traps can only catch one muskrat at a time. These colony traps are also cage traps so in the public mind these traps are allegedly humane whereas footholds and conibears are considered cruel. To debunk a little of this mindset, read the following quote

Bill Heatherly of Missouri states, "My graduate research project involved the mark-recapture of muskrats in central Missouri using both cage and colony traps. My experience was that muskrats captured in colony traps readily fought with each other, sometimes inflicting injury. Also, I noted one occurrence of an adult female cannibalizing a juvenile." Quote used with permission

Now it should be noted that this sort of predation can be reduced if not eliminated by setting the colony trap so that the muskrats drown. However, the reader should be exhorted that the anti's consider drowning inhumane also. So as you can see you can't win either way.

Muskrat Colony TrapThe image at the left is a muskrat colony trap. They are especially effective in catching muskrats when placed in muskrat runs. The one pictured at the left is collapsible for easy storage and transport. This trap is reasonably priced and will quickly pay for itself. Not legal in all states so be sure to check state laws prior to use.

Buy Now Colony Trap

 

muskrat baits                               books on muskrats                                 muskrat traps

 

11/9/03

Disclaimer: WDC seeks to provide accurate, effective and responsible information on resolving human/wildlife conflicts. We welcome suggestions, criticisms to help us achieve this goal. The information provided is for informational purposes only and users of the information use it at their own risk. The reader must consult state/federal officials to determine the legality of any technique in the reader's locale. Some techniques are dangerous to the user and to others. WDC encourages readers to obtain appropriate training (see our informational literature at our Store ), and understand that proper animal damage control involves patience, understanding that not every technique/method works for every situation or even 100% of the time. Your use of this information is governed by this understanding. We welcome potential users of the information and photos to simply ask for permission via e-mail. Finally, WDC welcomes e-mail but understand that all e-mails become property of Wildlife Damage Control.