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Elimination

Applying liquid repellent to whatever the muskrat is eating or granular repellent near the area where it is wreaking havoc can prove effective in some cases.

If a muskrat has taken up residence in your yard, cages are still your best bet for getting rid of the rodent. You can rent some at our head office store.

If you choose to rent a cage, we recommend using peanut butter, lettuce, carrots, and cattails as bait, in addition to an apple wedge to prevent the animal from becoming dehydrated. Following capture, the animal should be moved at least 15 to 20 km away before being released so as to avoid its return.

Actions

  • Capture animals with a wildlife trap designed for that purpose
  • Release animals at least 20 km away near a body of water

Prevention

  • Inspect the ground regularly so you can do something quickly if you find any damage

Description and development

Muskrats are rodents that look a bit like beavers. They are usually 45 to 65 cm in length and have a long, scaly tail that is slightly flattened laterally. Their back is dark brown and their belly more silver gray.

The breeding season lasts from April to September. Females have 2 litters of 6 to 7 kits per year. The gestation period is 25 to 30 days. Kits are weaned at 21 to 28 days of age and leave the nest after 30 to 35 days. Muskrats live in small family units counting up to 6 members in winter.
Muskrats live 3 to 4 years in the wild and up to 10 in captivity. Their main predators are American minks and raccoons. Humans also hunt them for meat and fur. Muskrats can, however, transmit tularemia.

Habits

Muskrats live in swamps, ponds, rivers, streams, lakes, and agricultural drainage channels. They have also been known to venture into garden ponds, causing damage and even eating the local fish. Muskrats are excellent swimmers and can remain underwater for up to 20 minutes. In the summer, they reside in burrows with multiple tunnels leading up to a chamber. In the winter, they live in cone-shaped lodges—made of mud and plant debris—that they build in fall.

In the summer, muskrats eat leaves, stems, and parts of aquatic plants. In the winter, they consume the submerged parts of these plants. They will also eat mollusks, frogs, turtles, and salamanders on occasion. They generally feed at dusk or at night and remain active throughout the year.

Photo published with the authorization of photographer Jean-Michel Lenoir

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