How to Get Rid of Muskrats

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Before answering the most pressing question “How to get rid of muskrats in your pond?” let’s understand what muskrats are. Similar to beavers, muskrats are rodents, typically found near ponds. These short-legged, grey-brown mammals also known as marsh rabbits. 

The primary diet of muskrats in ponds includes aquatic vegetation such as ferns and weeds, especially cattails. Muskrat damage in the pond includes soil instability, water drainage, aquatic plant damage, and sinkholes.

Muskrats make their home out of wooden dens. Known to multiply at a very fast rate; their mating season is from March through August. They can have up to 5 litters a year, giving up to nine young ones each time!

The nuisance created by muskrats makes it extremely necessary to get rid of muskrats from the pond. They can damage the shorelines of the pond and even eat the fish and aquatic plants that you cherish in your pond. They could even wander into your garden and bite on your flowers and vegetables. Being a rodent, muskrats often carry bacteria and parasites that could infect the aquatic life in your pond.

Before implementing muskrat control procedures, it is essential to identify and confirm the presence of muskrats in your pond. 

Common signs of muskrat presence

  • Muskrat burrows: Look around the bank or the outside wall of the waterway for holes that are about 6-8” in diameter
  • Muskrat runs: If you notice that silt has been removed perpendicular to the shore leading to a hole, it could indicate that the path has been made by the presence of a muskrat
  • Feeding signs: Any flat elevated platforms of mud and vegetation with the presence of droppings or shellfish remains could indicate muskrats
  • Muddy water: If you observe that the pond has recently started looking muddier, it could be due to the presence of muskrats in the pond, unsettling sediment from the base of the pond or creating new burrows

How to get rid of muskrats in a pond?

1. Use Repellants (Chemical or Electronic)

To get rid of muskrats in the pond, you can get an over-the-counter spray that you can simply spray on your plants and around the body of water. These chemicals have an unpleasant smell or taste to the muskrat. They need to be re-applied every week and after every rain shower. Some of these repellants contain fox urine, coyote urine, cayenne pepper, and garlic pepper mixed with water. These smells are not only unappealing but are also dreadful to the muskrats since they can smell the presence of their natural predators. 

After getting rid of muskrats, for long-term implementation, use an electronic repellant such as a motion-activated sprinkler to prevent the muskrats from coming back. Installed along the shoreline; this type of repellant frightens the muskrats with bursts of water.

2.Use a muskrat trap

If you ‘re wondering about a more humane solution to the question “how to trap a muskrat in a pond?” then using a live trap is the best alternative. Set up a live trap along the shoreline or nesting grounds of the pond. Use a calorie-rich bait like sweet potato or apple as bait. Since muskrats are primarily nocturnal, check the trap each morning to ensure that they do not die in the trap due to dehydration or overheating. This is the single most effective way of trapping muskrats in ponds.The next step would be to relocate the muskrat. However, before you begin this procedure, make sure that you are aware of the local trapping and relocation regulations and procedures from your local wildlife office.

3.Attract natural predators

Attracting natural predators is an effective muskrat control method near for your pond. Simply place eagle, owl and hawk boxes around your property. Once they begin to frequent the pond area they will prey on muskrats. Furthermore, sensing the danger of these predators, muskrats will not inhabit the pond near your home in the future. 

4. Eliminate their diet source

To boost muskrat removal around the pond, another alternative is to remove all of their food sources. A muskrat eats aquatic plants like sedges, cattails, water lilies, rushes, and pond weeds. Often, they may also eat aquatic animals such as small fish, frogs, crayfish, snails, mussels and clams.  

The best way to disrupt their diet is to remove all palatable plants and vegetation around the area so that they do not have access to any food. You could use a chemical spray to kill all the weeds, cattails and other aquatic plants. In a couple of weeks, the dead vegetation needs to be removed else it could act as a nesting area.

This method is recommended for use in small ponds, as removing vegetation from a lake could disrupt the ecosystem. If you still prefer to keep plants in your pond, you can alternatively try to keep them trim to avoid them from overgrowing and curb excess food supply for the muskrats. You could also use a combination of netting and fencing over the area to prevent muskrat damage to ponds.

5. Hire a professional 

How to get rid of a muskrat? No one can answer this question better than a professional. If you have an overwhelming muskrat population problem, or are not comfortable dealing with the rodent all by yourself, you have a couple of options. To prevent muskrat pond damage,you could either contact the Department of Natural Resources, a nuisance wildlife control operator, or a pest control agency to trap and remove the muskrats from your property. If you live in an area where muskrats are invasive, it is best to get rid of muskrats immediately by contacting a professional for help.