Muskrats are the only of their genus and are a semi-aquatic rodent that lives throughout the United States and into South America as well. They’re occasionally found in Europe and Asia as well, but they are only really considered a nuisance in North America. Although they are technically rodents, they are much closer related to moles and voles than mice or rats. They typically weigh around 5 lbs fully grown and have glossy brown fur with long tails. They also have large webbed feet which help them swim and dig if needed. They also have long front teeth very similar to that of a beaver.
Where Do Muskrats Live?:
Muskrats are semi-aquatic so they will make their homes in wetlands and other areas with access to water, such as lakes and ponds. Muskrats are nesting animals, which means they gather materials from their environment to make a home for them and their families. Similar to beavers, they will collect sticks, wood and mud to create a “push-up” home. This is all well and good when they’re out on in the middle of nowhere, but when it’s on your property that means muskrats will be looking for sources of wood (your trees, your plants, anything wood on your property).
Along with this, they are great diggers which means they might just burrow straight into the bank of the pond or lake, which allows them easy access in and out of the water.
What Do Muskrats Eat?:
They are attracted to these locations due to their abundance of food sources. Muskrats eat:
- Water Lilies
- They’ll also eat meat such as insects, snails, shellfish, frogs and salamanders if their plant food source is scarce.
Are Muskrats Aggressive?
Yes, muskrats can be aggressive! Generally they will attempt to go about their own life and not bother anyone, but if they or their home is approached, they can be aggressive in attempts to protect themselves. Not only can muskrats can be aggressive to humans but they can also be aggressive to other animals like your dogs or cats. Along with this, muskrats are known to carry rabies, so you don’t want to risk any aggressive interaction with them.
Will Muskrats Bite Humans?
Muskrats are generally docile creatures, but if they feel threatened then they will bite humans. Generally, their first thought is to run and hide from humans, but if they feel corned or threatened they will bite.
Signs Of Muskrats On Your Property:
If you think you might have muskrats on your property, here are a few tell-tale signs that muskrats have moved onto your land and making it a home of their own!
- Chewing and scratch marks, including stripped bark on trees and shrubs around a water source.
- Partially eaten water plants such as cat tails, and water lilies.
- Dens dug into steep banks.
- Dome-shaped dens formed from sticks and mud in the pond or water source.
The above are generally tell-tale signs of muskrat activity around your property, but there are also other animals such as freshwater otters and beavers which can also create very similar activity signs. That being said, in most areas in the United States, muskrats are more common.
How To Get Rid Of Muskrats And Keep Them Gone!
1. Cover Your Banks With A Bank Liner:
Suggested For: Lakes, Ponds, or Water Gardens.
If you have a lake, pond or water garden on your property, chances are Muskrats are going to take notice of a new potential home. Because muskrats like to burrow in the banks of water sources, you can place a rubber bank liner to help deter them from making a home in your water. If muskrats find their way onto your property and notice bank linker, they’ll be deterred to burrowing and will most likely find a new place to call home!
2. Live Trapping Muskrats:
Suggested For: Anyone dealing with a current muskrat infestation.
If you’re currently dealing with a muskrat infestation on your property, then you should look into live-trapping since that’s the most effective way to get rid of a current infestation. Muskrats are attracted to any appealing bait such as fruits or sweet potatoes, and by setting the traps near the waterline where you’ve seen muskrats. Because muskrats are nocturnal, you’ll have to check the trap every morning to ensure you can release them without harm.
After you’ve trapped a muskrat it’s suitable to release them away from your property in a suitable environment for them to create a new a better home. I’d suggest contacting your local wildlife office to be informed of local trapping regulations as well as a good place to release them.
Natural Muskrat Repellents:
If you are someone that wants to keep muskrats off their property but doesn’t want to kill them and doesn’t want to use potentially dangerous chemicals. Then natural muskrat repllents are your answer! Muskrats have strong senses of smell and they will actively avoid areas that have scents that they don’t enjoy. Whether this is from flowers or even the scent of urine from predators like coyotes. Natural muskrat repellents are an extremely effective way to keep muskrats off your property without the use of traps or chemicals.
3. Using A Natural Muskrat Repellent:
Suggested For: Those with a new muskrat problem or those who are looking to keep muskrats away from their property.
The easiest way to get rid of muskrats is to prevent them from finding your property as a new home in the first place! There are multiple natural repellents that will help to repel muskrats from finding your property appealing in the first place. This repellent works by tasting and smelling unappealing to muskrats and encourages them to find somewhere else to call home. These repellents will need to be sprayed on a weekly basis and after heavy rain to ensure max effectiveness!
4. Using Cayenne Pepper For Muskrat Removal:
Although you probably most often use cayenne pepper for cooking, this hot and spicy pepper can also be extremely effective in deterring muskrats from your property.
Cayenne pepper is best used to deter muskrats by sprinkling it around your pond or your property or even turning it into a spray solution. The spicy smell overwhelms muskrats and usually is enough to send them packing and have them look for a new place to call home!
This is a great way to get rid of muskrats because it’s 100% natural and won’t cause any death or damage to the muskrats or any other animals that might come in contact with the peppers.
Final Thoughts On Getting Rid of Muskrats:
Muskrats can be an extremely annoying to deal with, and can not only cause damage to your property but they can also be aggressive to humans and pets. Whether you currently have a muskrat problem or you’re looking to prevent one in the future, there are steps you can take to take matters into your own hands. Take a look at our other Pest Guides!
That being said, the best solution will always be to contact a professional to help eradicate your problem once and for all!
I hope this guide on how to get rid of muskrats has been helpful and allows you to take back your property from these pests!