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Muskrat Control and Removal

Muskrat (Ondantra zibethicus)

Behavior:

The muskrat is a large rodent that spends its life in aquatic habitats and is well adapted for swimming. Muskrats can live almost any place where water and food are available year round- streams, ponds, lakes, marshes, canals, roadside ditches, swamps, beaver ponds, and other wetland areas. In shallow water areas with plentiful vegetation, they use plant material to construct both bank dens and houses of vegetation. Both the houses of vegetation and the bank burrows or dens have several underwater entrances via “runs” or trails. Muskrats often have feeding houses, platforms, and chambers that are somewhat smaller than houses used for dens. Muskrats prefer to feed on field crops. They are also known to eat frogs, mussels, turtles, crayfish, and fish in ponds where vegetation is scarce.

Activity:

Burrowing activity is the source of the greatest damage caused by muskrats. They damage ponds dams, floating Styrofoam marinas, docks and boathouses, and lake shorelines.

Removal and Prevention:

The most effective method to remove muskrats includes trapping. Muskrats are a bit more difficult to remove because they often have entrance holes below the water surface. Live traps can be used but it depends on the level of water to determine whether or not muskrats will be removed alive. In conjunction, the prevention of muskrats is even more difficult because it involves installing a fence with a rat wall to prevent digging underneath.