How do I get rid of a muskrat?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

Getting rid of muskrats can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, it can be done effectively. One of the most humane methods to remove muskrats from your waterway is by using live traps. Here, I will guide you through the process of trapping muskrats and provide some tips to ensure success.

1. Choose the right trap: When it comes to live trapping muskrats, the size and design of the trap are crucial. Look for a trap specifically designed for muskrats, which typically has a wire mesh construction and a spring-loaded door. These traps are designed to catch the muskrat without causing harm.

2. Location, location, location: To increase your chances of trapping a muskrat, proper trap placement is essential. Muskrats are semi-aquatic creatures, so they spend a significant amount of time in the water. Look for signs of muskrat activity, such as burrows, dens, or feeding areas. These are ideal locations to set up your trap.

3. Set the trap near burrows or dens: Muskrats dig burrows in the banks of waterways, creating an entrance and an underwater tunnel system. Setting your trap directly outside of a burrow or den increases the likelihood of capturing a muskrat. Place the trap in the water close to the entrance, ensuring that the door is facing the burrow.

4. Bait the trap: Muskrats are herbivores and primarily feed on aquatic vegetation. Use fresh fruits, vegetables, or aquatic plants as bait. Apples, carrots, lettuce, or cattails are commonly used and can be secured inside the trap. By using a bait that mimics their natural food source, you’ll increase the chances of attracting a muskrat.

5. Check and monitor the traps regularly: It’s crucial to check your traps frequently, ideally every 24 hours. This ensures the captured muskrat doesn’t suffer unnecessarily and allows you to release any non-target animals promptly. Muskrats are resilient creatures, so it’s essential to handle them carefully and release them in an appropriate location away from your waterway.

6. Repeat the process if necessary: It may take several trapping attempts to remove all the muskrats from your waterway. Muskrats are social animals, so where there’s one, there are likely to be others. Keep setting traps in different locations, focusing on areas with the highest muskrat activity, until you have successfully removed them all.

7. Prevent future infestations: To prevent muskrats from returning to your waterway, consider making changes to the habitat. Clearing away excessive vegetation, installing barriers or fences, and modifying the landscape can discourage muskrats from re-establishing their presence. Regular maintenance and monitoring of the waterway can also help identify and address any potential muskrat activity early on.

Remember, it’s essential to check your local regulations and laws regarding trapping and releasing muskrats. In some areas, a permit may be required, and certain trapping methods may be prohibited. Always prioritize the humane treatment of animals and handle them with care throughout the trapping and release process.

I hope these tips assist you in successfully removing muskrats from your waterway. Good luck!