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Wildlife Education - A Directory of Qualified Muskrat Removal Professionals

How to Get Rid of Muskrats in a Lake



If you need muskrat help, click my Nationwide List of Muskrat Removal Experts for a pro near you.

How to Get Rid of Muskrats - Muskrats are semi-aquatic rodents. They will live out their entire lives near a water source and can be found by nearly any dam, river, stream, pond, lake, etc. They grow up to two feet long and considered the medium sized rodent. In other words, they are bigger than voles and nutria, but smaller than beavers. Muskrats are mainly nocturnal critters which mean that you will only see the damage they leave behind and will rarely see the muskrat itself. Muskrats dig burrows into the sides of water banks and eat a strict vegetarian diet. There living arrangements and their eating habits is what make them such a nuisance.

Muskrats are universally seen as pests. In other words, no one really wants them around. Muskrats live near water banks and dig deep burrows which can really cause a dangerous situation for the muskrat and the people that go to the water. The burrows can cause the sides of banks or levees to collapse and if they happen to make their home in the side of a dam, they can really disrupt the way the water is supposed to flow. This can cause the dam to collapse or flood certain places that are not supposed to be receiving water. This can also displace other species that are living in that ecosystem. Muskrats can also do considerable amounts of damage to your lawn and garden because they eat plants and vegetation exclusively so when their food sources dwindle near their burrow, they will sneak into your garden at night and eat all your fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs. This is a really big problem for people who grow show gardens or relying on their gardens for food. If you have a muskrat problem, here are some simple tricks you can try to get rid of muskrats.
  • The easiest and most effective way of getting rid of muskrats is to call a professional pest removal service. Muskrats are smart, resilient and hard to catch. Pest removers can the knowledge and the tools to catch the animal quickly and safely. They can also relocate or euthanize (if necessary) the animal safely. This way is not the cheapest way of solving your muskrat problem, but it is worth it to not have to mess with the hassle of getting rid of them.
  • If you cannot afford to get rid of muskrats using a pest removal service, you can try to trap them. You can either get a lethal or live trap from most hardware or garden stores or rent one from a local animal control office. Once you have caught the muskrat you must relocate it to a wooded area that has water that is at least 10 miles away from your property.
  • Poisoning muskrats is an effective way of getting rid of the population. You can order the poisons online or check to see if your local garden store has one. Place the poisons near the places that you do not want them or by their burrow, but use poisons only if you have to because other innocent animals or your pet can eat the poison too.
  • You can use a repellent that you spray on your plants to deter the muskrat, but they are not guaranteed to work. For them to be effective you have to be constantly reapplying it weekly or after it rains to keep the scent fresh. The best taste and scent repellents for muskrats include, garlic pepper, cayenne pepper, coyote urine and fox urine. You can also attract natural predators like hawks, foxes, owls, etc. by building nests for them to attract them to your property.
More in-detail how-to muskrat removal articles:
Information about muskrat trapping - analysis and methods for how to trap.
Information about how to kill a muskrat - with poison or other methods.
Information about how to keep muskrats away - prevention techniques.
Information about how to catch a muskrat - remove one stuck in the house.
Information about muskrat repellent - analysis of types and effectiveness.

Muskrat Information & Facts

Muskrat Appearance: Muskrats are considered ‘medium’ in size when it comes to the rodent family. They are smaller than beavers, but larger than rats, growing to be as large as two feet long. The muskrat tail makes up more than half the body length. The tail is hairless and covered in scales, and is used to facilitate swimming in the water. Webbed hind feet also aid in aquatic transport, while the front paws are outfitted with long, thick claws for digging. The fur coat is usually brown or black and will turn grey as the animal ages.

Muskrat Habitat and Behavior: Muskrats are found in most of North America as well as parts of Europe and Asia. Marshes and swamps are favorite habitats for these animals, though both fresh and salt water ponds, streams, and lakes are likely places to find them as well. This rodent is very adaptable, building homes based on the landscape around them. In areas where muddy banks are present, the muskrat will create a burrow with an underwater entrance. This safeguard prevents many predators from entering a muskrat’s home. The animal can stay underwater for over fifteen minutes, closing off its ears to prevent water intake. In areas with less mud and more vegetation, such as swamps, the muskrat will create a lodge similar to that of a beaver. Unlike the beaver’s lodge, however, the home of the muskrat will have an above-water entrance that will be packed with mud and vegetation when the house is in use.

Muskrats live in family groups and have been shown to be social with beavers, sharing the food stores in the beaver lodge. A muskrat family will consist of a mated pair and the most recent get of offspring. A female can have up to three litters a year. Each litter can have as many as eight babies.

Swimming is a vital part of the behavior for these rodents. A muskrat can stay underwater for an extended period of time. This ability is based on a high tolerance for carbon dioxide build-up. Using their tails for propulsion and steering, the muskrat is a fast and agile mover off land. They will commonly follow premade paths through a body of water and will keep those paths clear even when ice has formed.

Muskrat Diet: Muskrats are omnivorous. They feed on aquatic vegetation such as cattails, using the materials not eaten to fortify their homes. This secondary use of food allows the muskrat to eat the walls of their lodge if it is a particularly harsh winter. Aside from water plants, the muskrat will eat a variety of amphibians, turtles, crayfish, and small fish. The claws of the muskrat make opening shellfish an easy task in areas where this food is available. Like most rodents, the teeth on a muskrat need to be kept at a manageable length, and this is accomplished by chewing on a variety of roughage.

Muskrat Nuisance Concerns: Due to the tendency to burrow into embankments, the muskrat is looked on as a problem animal in many regions of the country. Levees and floodwalls can be damaged—sometimes invisibly—by the den burrowing these rodents perform. Because holes are often below the water level, most places are not aware there is a problem until it is too late. In rural settings, muskrats will often leave their watery habitats and feed on corn or other crops. This is another reason the animals are seen as pests.

Muskrat Diseases: Muskrats are known carriers of a number of diseases. Giardia, a protozoan that creates intestinal havoc, is most often associated with beavers; however, it is a water-borne illness and as such can be spread by other aquatic mammals. Tularemia, a disease commonly spread by rodents and characterized by ulcers and joint pain, is also present in muskrat populations. Other diseases that can spread to humans include leptospirosis, ringworm, and pseudotuberculosis. Concerns for house pets include Tyzzer’s disease, intestinal parasites, mites, ticks, and secondary gastrointestinal upset from consumption of a muskrat carcass.

This site is intended to provide muskrat education and information, so that you can make an informed decision if you need to deal with a muskrat problem. This site provides many muskrat control articles and strategies, if you wish to attempt to solve the problem yourself. If you are unable to do so, which is likely with many cases of muskrat removal, please go to the home page and click the USA map, where I have wildlife removal experts listed in over 500 cites and towns, who can properly help you with your nuisance muskrat.

© 2001-2017     Website content & photos by Trapper David     Feel free to email me with questions: david@wildlifeanimalcontrol.com